isms, ocracies and ologies

I’ve been getting run ragged trying to chaise down the roots of two things that ought to be pretty easy to chase.

One is just the American Way. What is the ‘chain of events’ that leads from “back then” to “us now”?

The other is The Socialisms. That one is more troublesome for several reasons. First off, it fractures and breeds new variations faster than a flu virus in an irradiated hog farm. Secondly, they keep changing the names of things. So there is this explosion of “different things” that aren’t all that different. Often with names that are confusingly similar to completely opposite ideas. (So, for example, in America the “left” has taken “liberal” from what it used to mean as a more ‘libertarian’ ideal. In ‘digging in’ I also found that anarcho-socialism has tried to re-brand itself as “libertarian socialism” – an oxymoron if ever I’d heard one…)

I’m up to about 21 different -isms, and a few -ocracies and -ologies too, and with no end in sight. This is the kind of thing that can drive an Aspe around the bend. We really really want consistency and completion. This is wholly inconsistent (sometimes deliberately so, IMHO) and has so many lose ends it is looking schizoid with multiple personality disorder.

But ‘A Tidy Mind’ demands some kind of handle on all this, so I’m going to toss some of it at the wall and see what sticks, and leave some to be added in future days. Hopefully those bits will be the lesser important ones.

I’m going to use Wiki links for a lot of this. Yes, they are horridly biased when it comes to “All Things Socialist or Political”. Then again, from a “know your adversary” point of view, that could be a good thing. And, right up front, I consider Socialism Writ Large as my adversary. The amount of damage done to the world by the various flavors of it is truly horrific. From The Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics to the National Socialist Workers Party (Nazi) it’s just been a world of greif.

With that said, I’m no ‘free market capitalist’ either. We had the age of the Robber Barons and it was not good. Intellectually I can make the strongest case for what is termed Lange Type Socialism or sometimes “Market Socialism” in it’s “Socialism Lite” level. Robber Barons are evil. Dictators (be they kings, emperors or commissars) are evil. We need some kind of ‘countervailing power’ between the various power centers… and in an all out free market, you end up with a few Oligarch Robber Barons. So my bias is that I want Libertarian Ideals, but see that we need some kind of Government Cop to prevent Robber Barons from owning the world.

OK, that’s my bias. So what is the trail of history?

The Ancient Regime

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancien_Régime

I’m going to drop my first anchor point here. In reality, there is a deeper level. One can wander back to the Democracy of Ancient Greece, or the Republic Of Rome. But that doesn’t help all that much in explaining the “now”. Well, other than a sidebar that the Founders of the USA knew that the Greeks had discovered Democracy to be a bad form of government as it is unstable and tramples minority rights; and that Republics are both just and stable. Those are known from history, but not very explanatory.

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/plato.html

Democracy passes into despotism.
Plato

Democracy… is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.
Plato

Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.
Plato

So, knowing that, we in the USA got a hybrid system. The Senate was appointed by the States, as their representatives and to preserve their States Rights, and also so serve as a check on the will of the people that would otherwise inevitably lead to the bankruptcy of the government and then on to dictatorship. The House was elected by the people, to gain the best of Democracy without it’s unbridled ills.

(Later the US Constitution was changed to make Senators directly elected. Much of the decay of the USA can be traced from that point. It takes about a generation for Democracies to fail… so it’s a slow enough process to not show up very fast. Having a largely Republic heritage and with ours now being an indirect Democracy, it may take two generations or three, but once we removed State Appointed Senators we pretty much guaranteed the Welfare State and ultimate demise back to Dictatorship.)

Which brings us back to the Ancient Regime.

That is the description applied to France for most of it’s older history. An age of Kings and Privilege.

The Ancien Régime (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃sjɛ̃ ʁeʒim], Old Regime) refers primarily to the aristocratic, social and political system established in France from approximately the 15th century to the 18th century under the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts (like the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts), internal conflicts and civil wars, but they remained a confusing patchwork of local privilege and historic differences until the French Revolution ended the system.

Much of the medieval political centralization of France had been lost in the Hundred Years’ War, and the Valois Dynasty’s attempts at re-establishing control over the scattered political centres of the country were hindered by the Wars of Religion. Much of the reigns of Henry IV, Louis XIII and the early years of Louis XIV were focused on administrative centralization. Despite, however, the notion of “absolute monarchy” (typified by the king’s right to issue lettres de cachet) and the efforts by the kings to create a centralized state, ancien régime France remained a country of systemic irregularities: administrative (including taxation), legal, judicial, and ecclesiastic divisions and prerogatives frequently overlapped, while the French nobility struggled to maintain their own rights in the matters of local government and justice, and powerful internal conflicts (like the Fronde) protested against this centralization.

The need for centralization in this period was directly linked to the question of royal finances and the ability to wage war. The internal conflicts and dynastic crises of the 16th and 17th centuries (the Wars of Religion, the conflict with the Habsburgs) and the territorial expansion of France in the 17th century demanded great sums which needed to be raised through taxes
, such as the taille and the gabelle and by contributions of men and service from the nobility.

One key to this centralization was the replacing of personal “clientele” systems organized around the king and other nobles by institutional systems around the state. The creation of the Intendants—representatives of royal power in the provinces—did much to undermine local control by regional nobles. The same was true of the greater reliance shown by the royal court on the “noblesse de robe” as judges and royal counselors. The creation of regional parlements had initially the same goal of facilitating the introduction of royal power into newly assimilated territories, but as the parlements gained in self-assurance, they began to be sources of disunity.

Why mention this? Because it was just this kind of regime that had taken hold in most all of Europe after the fall of The Roman Empire. It was this kind of regime that was the antithesis of what the USA was to become. It was the abuses of Kings, centralizing power and taxation, setting the approved religion for all their people, that led to the Colonial Revolution and the United States Of America. You see it directly reflected in our constitution and bill of rights.

No taxation without representation (something we may need to revisit if the UN starts to claim it can tax us…)
No national establishment of religion. (Says NOTHING about practice by individuals, in government or out, only that the Sovereign doesn’t get to set the religion for all, we each get to choose.)
No titles of nobility (Kings and Princes have no place in this government).
etc. etc.

So, if we arose partly out of a rejection of the Old King George and the whole British version of the same Royalty based system, it’s a good place to set our anchor. Yes, there had been precursor rumblings. The Magna Carta set aside some rights for the other nobles, though there were several generations of “does so, does not” to come after the first signing.

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

On June 15, 1215, in a field at Runnymede, King John affixed his seal to Magna Carta. Confronted by 40 rebellious barons, he consented to their demands in order to avert civil war. Just 10 weeks later, Pope Innocent III nullified the agreement, and England plunged into internal war.

Although Magna Carta failed to resolve the conflict between King John and his barons, it was reissued several times after his death. On display at the National Archives, courtesy of David M. Rubenstein, is one of four surviving originals of the 1297 Magna Carta. This version was entered into the official Statute Rolls of England.
Enduring Principles of Liberty

Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king.
It is concerned with many practical matters and specific grievances relevant to the feudal system under which they lived. The interests of the common man were hardly apparent in the minds of the men who brokered the agreement. But there are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day:

“No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land.”

The key thing to realize here is that this was about how the pie of dominance was to be shared among the dominating… It is often held up as a first step in the liberty of the Free Man, and in some ways it is. Some small shred of the normal Absolute Power of Kings was wrested away and some degree of what we would now call Human Rights and Property Rights were taken by the Barons… but not the common man.

In many ways, the U.S. Colonial Revolution was just a replay of the Magna Carta, largely driven by the Landed Gentry but with a bit of added liberty and freedom handed out to the average man along the way. (It would be much much later that those liberties extended to women and racial minorities as well).

But after the Revolution, a strange thing happened. The U.S. Constitution is even MORE lavish in handing power and liberty to the common man, and restricting the power of the Central Sovereign. The United States then flourished for a couple of hundred years.

Eventually, we began to change. It largely started with the Progressive Movement of the Roosevelts (both of them!) and has, with fits and starts, lurched ever more toward Democracy (and away from Republic) and ever more toward “Progressive” ideals. Now, about 50 years later, or almost 2 generations, we are bankrupt from people “voting for themselves the largess of the public purse” and headed to the inevitable collapse (that is typically followed by a dictatorship – this time likely a ‘dictator of the committee’ from either the IMF or the UN or both; IMHO, but that’s highly speculative so far.)

It’s not hard to trace those currents, up to the Progressive Era; but at that point things get muddy.

“Why?” Takes us down several other paths, some of which have their own roots back to the time of the French Revolution, when The Ancient Regime was overthrown. It is that ‘backing and filling’ that sprouts branches all over the place. That leads to “Secular Humanism” and “Socialism” and a dozen other ‘isms and ocracies’. We have to mention Theocracy in there too… That’s where it all gets messy.

So we’ll come back to the “messy bits” somewhat later. Suffice it to say that before the USA, the world was largely dominated by Ancient Regimes of Kings and Royals, the occasional odd Empire (such as the Empires in China), and some Theocracies, such as the Muslim Arabs in Africa (only a few centuries prior pushed out of both ends of Europe).

Basically, we can accept as our ‘backdrop’ that there was a long history of domination, starting from when the first individuals were dominated in families by their parents, leading to tribes of families dominated by a Chief or Leader, on to Clans of tribes with selected leadership, eventually culminating in Lords, Barons, Kings and Princes and all the other Riff Raff of “Nobility”. (Who then promptly found it fun to subjugate each other into collections of nations that they could call Empires…) Most of the history of antiquity is entirely one of Domination by some central authority over the free will of others. Only the names change, not the process… (Modulo the sporadic toe dip into Democracy that returned to Dictatorship under the Greeks and the Roman Republic that lasted remarkably long before slipping back into Empire…)

Which brings us back to the U.S.A.

At one point George Washington was asked if he would be King… He turned down the offer… but for such a decision we might have had a very different path. What caused the shift?

A little thing called The Enlightenment.

THAT was the watershed event that lead to the USA as we know it today. At times, some folks assert the USA was a Masonic creation. IMHO, it is more that both Freemasonry and The USA have a common root in The Enlightenment ideals of that era.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment#Social_and_cultural_interpretation

Freemasonic lodges originated from English and Scottish stonemasonic guilds in the 17th century. In the 18th century, they expanded into an extremely widespread collection of interconnected (to varying degrees) men’s, and occasionally women’s, associations which Margaret Jacob contends had their own mythologies and special codes of conduct – including a communal understanding of liberty and equality inherited from guild sociability – “liberty, fraternity, and equality” The remarkable similarity between these values, which were generally common in Britain as on the Continent, and the French Revolutionary slogan of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” spawned many conspiracy theories. Notably, Abbé Barruel traced the origins of the Jacobins – and hence the Revolution – to the French freemasons.

Notice that the Freemasons were fairly young as a group having only just formed out of the earlier stone masons guilds. But steeped in the same Enlightenment ideals. We also see how later, after the French King has funded the Americans against King George, the Enlightenment comes to France and forms a Republic there, as well…

But which caused whom? IMHO, the environment lead to the formation of both the Freemasons and the Enlightenment thinking. Both came together when they came. For my purposes, I’m not going to chase back upstream to the questions of the origin of Freemasons (were they the remnant of the Knights Templar? etc.) It is enough to note that they were part of the Enlightenment.

Their “official” start is about 43 years before the independence of the USA. Not a lot of time, but perhaps enough to have had influence; but more likely just driven by common currents of social development and history.

Freemasonry was officially established on the continent of Europe in 1734, when a lodge was set up in The Hague, although the first “fully formed lodge” appears to have met in 1721 in Rotterdam. Similarly, there are records of a Parisian lodge meeting in 1725 or 1726. As Daniel Roche writes, freemasonry was particularly prevalent in France – by 1789, there were perhaps as many as 100,000 French Masons, making Freemasonry the most popular of all Enlightenment associations. Freemasonry does not appear to have been confined to Western Europe, however, as Margaret Jacob writes of lodges in Saxony in 1729 and in Russia in 1731.

Conspiracy theories aside, it is likely that masonic lodges had an effect on society as a whole. Jacob argues that they “reconstituted the polity and established a constitutional form of self-government, complete with constitutions and laws, elections and representatives”. In other words, the micro-society set up within the lodges constituted a normative model for society as a whole. This was especially true on the Continent: when the first lodges began to appear in the 1730s, their embodiment of British values was often seen as threatening by state authorities. For example, the Parisian lodge that met in the mid 1720s was composed of English Jacobite exiles.

Furthermore, freemasons all across Europe made reference to the Enlightenment in general in the 18th century. In French lodges, for example, the line “As the means to be enlightened I search for the enlightened” was a part of their initiation rites. British lodges assigned themselves the duty to “initiate the unenlightened”. This did not necessarily link lodges to the irreligious, but neither did this exclude them from the occasional heresy. In fact, many lodges praised the Grand Architect, the masonic terminology for the divine being who created a scientifically ordered universe.

What matters most to me is just “What is this ‘Enlightenment’ and what does it have to do with the USA?” It was, at it’s core, a movement away from a world driven by a Religious Authority and away from a world driven by a Civil Central Authority (be they Kings or Emperors) and toward a world of free individuals thinking for themselves.

This older world is where we get the terminology of the numbered estates. The “First Estate” was the Church and Clergy. The “Second Estate” was the Royalty and Nobility These folks spoke, and that was law. Truth eternal. What the Enlightenment did was to say “No!” to that. The individual could decide what was truth, and what was law… (The ‘Third Estate’ was everyone else and the peasantry. Folks have sporadically added other numbers, but with less regularity. “Forth Estate” often being news media. Fifth estate having even more variability )

An Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe, that sought to mobilize the power of reason, in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted science and intellectual interchange and opposed superstition, intolerance and abuses in church and state. Originating about 1650 to 1700, it was sparked by philosophers Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677), John Locke (1632–1704), Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), mathematician Isaac Newton (1643–1727), and historian Voltaire (1694–1778). The wide distribution of the printing press, invented in Europe in 1440, made possible the rapid dispersion of knowledge and ideas which precipitated the Enlightenment. Ruling princes often endorsed and fostered figures and even attempted to apply their ideas of government in what was known as Enlightened Despotism. The Enlightenment flourished until about 1790–1800, after which the emphasis on reason gave way to Romanticism’s emphasis on emotion and a Counter-Enlightenment gained force.

That reference to “Romanticism” and the “Counter-Enlightenment” matters; and rather a lot. We will see that from those roots grows most of the current conflict between “Progressive” and “Socialist” movements and the Traditional American Enlightenment. Not directly, and not with a pure note, but with a strong current all the same.

One sidebar: While the Enlightenment tried to curtail the power of Kings and The Church, it was NOT an anti-religious movement. In the USA we see this clearly in the fairly strong presence of religion in The Founders. Congress opened with a prayer. So too the Courts. It was a later twist that turned the “Age of Reason” into “Humanism” and away from religion altogether. That thread reaches back through Renaissance Humanism and eventually ends in something called Secular Humanism. When someone speaks of the “Separation of Church and State” meaning no official state religion (but religion in the Public Square is OK), that is a Renaissance Humanist, headed into the Enlightenment ideals. When they say it instead means “Ban God from school and the public square”, they have moved into Secular Humanism.

From the Secular Link:

Secular Humanism – Excluding God from Schools & Society

Secular Humanism is an attempt to function as a civilized society with the exclusion of God and His moral principles. During the last several decades, Humanists have been very successful in propagating their beliefs. Their primary approach is to target the youth through the public school system. Humanist Charles F. Potter writes, “Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American school is a school of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday school’s meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of the five-day program of humanistic teaching?” (Charles F. Potter, “Humanism: A New Religion,” 1930)

John J. Dunphy, in his award winning essay, The Humanist (1983), illustrates this strategic focus, “The battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: A religion of humanity — utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to carry humanist values into wherever they teach. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new — the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.”

Is this what’s happening? John Dewey, remembered for his efforts in establishing America’s current educational systems, was one of the chief signers of the 1933 Humanist Manifesto. It seems the Humanists have been interested in America’s education system for nearly a century. They have been absolutely successful in teaching children that God is imaginary and contrary to “science.”

Note that those dates are all fairly recent. The wiki on Secular Humanism put the date as about the same:

The meaning of the phrase “Secular Humanism” has evolved over time. The phrase has been used since at least the 1930s, and in 1943, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, was reported as warning that the “Christian tradition… was in danger of being undermined by a Secular Humanism which hoped to retain Christian values without Christian faith

Compare that with the earlier Renaissance Humanism:

Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval scholastic education, emphasizing practical, pre-professional and -scientific studies. Scholasticism focused on preparing men to be doctors, lawyers or professional theologians, and was taught from approved textbooks in logic, natural philosophy, medicine, law and theology. The main centers of humanism were Florence and Naples.

Rather than train professionals in jargon and strict practice, humanists sought to create a citizenry (sometimes including women) able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity. Thus, they would be capable of better engaging the civic life of their communities and persuading others to virtuous and prudent actions. This was to be accomplished through the study of the studia humanitatis, today known as the humanities: grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry and moral philosophy.

Clearly something changed in “Humanism” between the Renaissance and post Enlightenment…

So that sidebar shows that the Renaissance Humanism lead into the Enlightenment, and there was no issue of with God in the Public Square. That was the context in which America was forged. That is the context in which our constitution was written. A desire to prevent central religious authority from dictating a religion; but not one that forbade the public expression of it. THAT idea came along later. MUCH later, and as part of the anti-Enlightenment.

So, back at being more, rather than less, Enlightened:

The centre of the Enlightenment was France, where it was based in the salons and culminated in the great Encyclopédie (1751–72) edited by Denis Diderot (1713–1784) with contributions by hundreds of leading philosophes (intellectuals) such as Voltaire (1694–1778), Rousseau (1712–1778) and Montesquieu (1689–1755). Some 25,000 copies of the 35 volume set were sold, half of them outside France. The new intellectual forces spread to urban centres across Europe, notably England, Scotland, the German states, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Austria, and Spain, then jumped the Atlantic into the European colonies, where it influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, among many others, and played a major role in the American Revolution. The political ideals influenced the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the Polish–Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, 1791.

So there is the cultural Tap Root Of America. Directly out of The Enlightenment. From the philosophy, to the writers, to the American Revolutionaries who drafted our Constitution and laws.

The fundamental truth that springs from this is that anything that it ANTI-Enlightenment is contrary to The Founders and to the Constitution they wrote. Attempts to re-interpret the Constitution in the dim light of “Secular Humanism” (or other -isms) is simply to lie about the meaning and intent of the words written by our Enlightenment thinkers and Founders.

(This does not prevent us from changing our minds about what government we want to have, but it DOES say that simply redefining away the Enlightenment is a lie, a fraud, and a despicable act. Have a vote on it, as the Constitution directs, but do not simply rewrite the meaning by corrupting the words as written.)

If one looks back to the roots of Humanism, it is hard to see how it could ever be transmuted into “Secular Humanism”

Many humanists were churchmen, most notably Pope Pius II (Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini), Sixtus IV and Leo X, and there was often patronage of humanists by senior church figures. Much humanist effort went into improving the understanding and translations of Biblical and early Christian texts, both before the Protestant Reformation, on which the work of figures like Erasmus and Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples had a great influence, and afterwards.

Yet the wiki on humanism now can claim things like:

Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns, attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. According to Greg M. Epstein, “Humanism today can be categorized as a movement, a philosophy of life or worldview, or … [a] lifestance.” In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism.

Secular humanism is a secular ideology which espouses reason, ethics, and justice, whilst specifically rejecting supernatural and religious dogma as a basis of morality and decision-making. Secular humanism contrasts with religious humanism, which is an integration of humanist ethical philosophy with religious rituals and beliefs that center on human needs, interests, and abilities. Renaissance humanism is a cultural movement of the Italian Renaissance based on the study of classical works.

Religious and secular humanism arose from a trajectory extending from the deism and anti-clericalism of the Enlightenment, the various secular movements of the 19th century (such as positivism), and the overarching expansion of the scientific project.

Note that the reference to The Enlightenment points out that it was Deist, that is, affirming God, but not so keen on the Church cleric power structure. Something we’ve already seen, but worth repeating.

It is also worth noting just who ends up in the Secular Humanist camp…

After World War II, three prominent Humanists became the first directors of major divisions of the United Nations: Julian Huxley of UNESCO, Brock Chisholm of the World Health Organization, and John Boyd-Orr of the Food and Agricultural Organization.

So we can see that the UN leans, per this kind of roster, directly against The Enlightenment leanings of the USA.

(At this point it’s easy to get lost in a sea of -isms, from materialism to theism to atheism to even more obscure ones like Extropieanism (that thinks we can evolve to live forever, a rather extreme form of optomism -yet another ism… and leads off into comparing pessimism and realism and… that’s a pretty good example of how the ‘ism chains’ seem to multiply rather than converge… One can only wonder how “accidental” that confounding of the language might be… but remember “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity – and Stupid covers a lot of ground in one night…”)

What were the central themes of The Enlightenment?

No brief summary can do justice to the diversity of enlightened thought in 18th-century Europe. Because it was a value system rather than a set of shared beliefs, there are many contradictory trains to follow. As Outram notes, The Enlightenment comprised “many different paths, varying in time and geography, to the common goals of progress, of tolerance, and the removal of abuses in Church and state.”

In his famous essay “What is Enlightenment?” (1784), Immanuel Kant described it simply as freedom to use one’s own intelligence. More broadly, the Enlightenment period is marked by increasing empiricism, scientific rigor, and reductionism, along with increasing questioning of religious orthodoxy.

Historian Peter Gay asserts the Enlightenment broke through “the sacred circle,” whose dogma had circumscribed thinking. The Sacred Circle is a term he uses to describe the interdependent relationship between the hereditary aristocracy, the leaders of the church and the text of the Bible. This interrelationship manifests itself as kings invoking the doctrine “Divine Right of Kings” to rule. Thus church sanctioned the rule of the king and the king defended the church in return.

Zafirovski, (2010) argues that The Enlightenment is the source of critical ideas, such as the centrality of freedom, democracy, and reason as primary values of society – as opposed to the divine right of kings or traditions as the ruling authority. This view argues that the establishment of a contractual basis of rights would lead to the market mechanism and capitalism, the scientific method, religious tolerance, and the organization of states into self-governing republics through democratic means. In this view, the tendency of the philosophes in particular to apply rationality to every problem is considered the essential change. Later critics of The Enlightenment, such as the Romantics of the 19th century, contended that its goals for rationality in human affairs were too ambitious to ever be achieved.

A variety of 19th-century movements, including liberalism and neo-classicism, traced their intellectual heritage back to the Enlightenment.

Here we see the first notes of discord from the Romantics, claiming that it is, in essence, “A Bridge Too Far”. To which I wold say, it is a bridge I’m happy to keep in place for the crossing… Also note that the word “liberalism” in the last line will be subject to some confusion.

Classical Liberalism has little to do with what are called “Liberals” in the USA today. At the end of W.W.II, being a Socialist became a bit of a dirty word and the Progressives had been in favor of much from that point of view, so they re-branded themselves “Liberals”; thus leading to the (deliberate?) confusion where a “liberal” in the UK was almost the exact opposite of an “liberal” in the USA.

The wiki on Liberalism makes a vague reference to this, but doesn’t really try to keep it straight, and certainly does not indicate that “liberal” in the USA today is the exact opposite in many ways of what it was in the beginning. Few could keep a strait face while arguing that the “Tax and Spend and Regulate and Centrally Plan” American Social Liberal was in fact promoting freedom and free markets. Nor can the present “Federal Regulator Regime” be at all rectified with The Enlightenment ideals on which we were founded. I will also note that the complete alienation of Public Square Religion (as typified by Secular Humanism) is in stark contrast with The Enlightenment attitudes of our founders…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism

This article discusses the ideology of liberalism. Local differences in its meaning are listed in Liberalism worldwide. For other uses, see Liberal (disambiguation).

If you need a disambiguation page for the “differences in meaning” worldwide, you have a substantially useless and corrupted term. But, from the worldwide page, we can find that the corruption is even further spread in Latin America:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism_worldwide

In many Latin American countries, liberalism and radicalism have been associated with generally left-of-center political movements such as Colombia’s Liberal Party, historically concerned mostly with effecting government decentralization and regional autonomy (liberals were influential in the total dissolution of at least two defunct countries, the United Provinces of Central America and Gran Colombia) and separation of church and state. At times, the anti-clerical and secularist stances promoted by Latin American liberals have resulted in limitations on the civil rights of clergy or others associated with the Church (as in Mexico, where law still prohibits priests from public office). Liberalism in North America has a different background.

So exactly how does a “liberal” meaning freedom loving philosophy that embraces religious choices end up in bed with radicalism and having a ‘secularist” stance that “prohibits priests from public office”? Sounds a whole lot more “secular humanist” to me…

So, generally, you will find me avoiding the use of the term “Liberal”. I will tend to use “Libertarian” to mean something like what the old Classical Liberal meant – one who embraces liberties for all, including religious liberties. I will tend to use “Progressive” or “Lange Type Socialist” for those American Social Liberals who advocate a ‘democracy lite low religion high social intervention with central planning’ style of government. Or as noted in a prior article:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/i-am-a-liberal/

The classical freedom loving ones are the Classi-Liberals and the American Social Liberals are the ASo-Liberals. As these two are often exact opposites in political desires, we need clear terms to distinguish them. As the ASo-Liberals have chosen to muddy the language, I’m at liberty to un-muddy it…

From the wiki:

Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion.

Liberalism first became a powerful force in the Age of Enlightenment, rejecting several foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as nobility, established religion, absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. The early liberal thinker John Locke, who is often credited for the creation of liberalism as a distinct philosophical tradition, employed the concept of natural rights and the social contract to argue that the rule of law should replace absolutism in government, that rulers were subject to the consent of the governed, and that private individuals had a fundamental right to life, liberty, and property.

The revolutionaries in the American Revolution and the French Revolution used liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of tyrannical rule. The nineteenth century saw liberal governments established in nations across Europe, Latin America, and North America. Liberal ideas spread even further in the twentieth century, when liberal democracies triumphed in two world wars and survived major ideological challenges from fascism and communism. Today, liberalism in its many forms remains as a political force to varying degrees of power and influence on all major continents.

A twenty-first century development is an emerging new liberalism that is centred on the concept of timeless freedom (ensuring the freedom of future generations through proactive action taken today). This is an idea that has been endorsed by the President of Liberal International Hans van Baalen.

Note that the usage of “liberal” in that quote is Clasi-Liberal. As the wiki on liberal variations points out:

“In the United States, the primary use of the term liberal is at some variance with European and worldwide usage. In the United States today it is most associated with the definition of modern liberalism which is a combination of social liberalism, public welfare and a mixed economy, which is in contrast to classical liberalism.”

As of the moment that Obama bought shares in our banks and bailed out the car companies, he moved the American Liberals into the realm of Lange Type Socialism. (I do not say that as a pejorative. It’s a simple matter of definition. Lange Type Socialism is a mixed economy with the Central Government doing SOME Central Planning and owning SOME of the major industries. Owning a large part of GM and Bank of America qualifies. It also has a primary tenet of “avoidance of bankruptcy” which is exactly what was done with GM. Bond holder property rights were usurped, the ‘value’ given to the Auto Workers Union as a socialism “gift”, and the extant Rule Of Law in the bankruptcy law was ignored. Note that a GM that had gone through bankruptcy would likely still have existed and be making cars today. Most airlines in America have gone through bankruptcy many times…) So how our Socialism Lite Liberals can be in any way related to Classical Liberals is a good question. I think it best to use distinguishing terms, given the rampant confusion otherwise.

And please, don’t toss rocks at me over Obama and Lang Type Socialism. It’s just part of the definition. “Avoidance of Bankruptcy” and “Government ownership of some of the means of production”… Oh, and the massive growth of ‘central regulation’ which is only different from ‘central planning’ in that some Lange Type market forces are allowed to work inside centrally directed boundaries.

OK, so how did we get from an Enlightenment Government to where we are now? One clearly embracing Secular Humanism as it relates to religion, and drifting into other -isms along the way?

The Anti-Enlightenment

Not too long after The Enlightenment swept over America and France, there was a kind of backlash against it. What Marx calls “reactionary” forces. It’s all the same general idea. Whatever happens, once it gets “on top” tends to get lazy and the folks who didn’t like it start to push back. This comes in two parts. The “anti-Enlightenment” and “Romanticism”. We’ll look at each in turn and list a couple of their distinguishing beliefs. The accepted term is “Counter-Enlightenment”, but I think “anti-Enlightenment” is more accurate…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-Enlightenment

“Counter-Enlightenment” is a term used to refer to a movement that arose in the late-18th and early-19th centuries in opposition to the 18th century Enlightenment. [...] The first known use of the term ‘counter-enlightenment’ in English was in 1949. Berlin published widely about the Enlightenment and its enemies and did much to popularise the concept of a Counter-Enlightenment movement that he characterised as relativist, anti-rationalist, vitalist and organic, and which he associated most closely with German Romanticism. Some recent scholarship has challenged this view for focusing too narrowly on Germany and stopping abruptly in the early 19th century, thereby ignoring the Enlightenment’s many subsequent critics, particularly in the 20th century. Some scholars reject the use of the term ‘the Counter-Enlightenment’ on the grounds that there was no single Enlightenment for its alleged enemies to oppose.

OK, here we start to see the “moral relativism” anchor in that ‘relativist’ character. “Anti-rationalist” is not sounding too nice either… “Vitalist and organic” sounds like something from the produce department at Whole Foods… The reality and truth of the term is not far off from the snide remark… Rather than go through them in depth, that will be left for others to explore…

The key point here is just to realize that there was an anti-Enlightenment movement and it lead to much of what we have today. That, then, implies that a refounding back in Enlightenment Principles is the best way to get the nation back to a decent footing and out of the “relativist” and “secular humanist” quagmire.

So what is this anti-Enlightenment like? From what root does it spring?

In his 1996 article for The American Political Science Review (Vol. 90, No. 2), Arthur M. Melzer identifies the origin of the Counter-Enlightenment in the religious writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, showing Rousseau as the man who fired the first major shot in the war between the Enlightenment and its enemies. Graeme Garrard follows Melzer in his “Rousseau’s Counter-Enlightenment” (2003). This contradicts Berlin’s depiction of Rousseau as a philosophe (albeit an erratic one) who shared the basic beliefs of his Enlightenment contemporaries. Also, like McMahon, it traces the beginning of Counter-Enlightenment thought back to France and prior to the German Sturm und Drang movement of the 1770s. Garrard’s book “Counter-Enlightenments” (2006) broadens the term even further, arguing against Berlin that there was no single ‘movement’ called ‘The Counter-Enlightenment’. Rather, there have been many Counter-Enlightenments, from the middle of the 18th century through to 20th century Enlightenment critics among critical theorists, postmodernists and feminists. The Enlightenment has enemies on all points of the ideological compass, from the far left to the far right, and all points in between. Each of the Enlightenment’s enemies depicted it as they saw it or wanted others to see it, resulting in a vast range of portraits, many of which are not only different but incompatible.

OK, so the Enlightenment was not popular with the Old Right (Kings and Clerics) nor is it popular with the New Left (postmodernists, feminists, and various socialists). All the folks grasping after power not liking the idea of individuals able to ignore centers of power. What a surprise… /sarcoff>;…

This argument has been taken a step further by some, like intellectual historian James Schmidt, who question the idea of ‘the Enlightenment’ and therefore of the existence of a movement opposing it. As our conception of ‘the Enlightenment’ has become more complex and difficult to maintain, so too has the idea of ‘the Counter-Enlightenment’. Advances in Enlightenment scholarship in the last quarter century have challenged the stereotypical view of the 18th century as an ‘Age of Reason’,

And here we see the more “modern” style of just erasing from history things that you find inconvenient… So lets just “question” The Enlightenment for a while, then we can later dismiss it out of hand as a fantasy of some past long dead writers… Where have I seen that trick before…

OK, we have a reference to a German Sturm und Drang, so a quote from that link:

Sturm und Drang (German pronunciation: [ˈʃtʊʁm ʊnt ˈdʁaŋ], conventionally translated as “Storm and Stress”) is a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s, in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements.

The philosopher Johann Georg Hamann is considered to be the ideologue of Sturm und Drang, with Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, H. L. Wagner and Friedrich Maximilian Klinger being significant figures too. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was also a notable proponent of the movement, though he and Friedrich Schiller ended their period of association with it by initiating what would become Weimar Classicism.

Which sounds a whole lot more like “spoiled brat” to me than any philosophical movement… but we do find it is part of Romanicism… so guess what our next stop will be? (Oh, and I note in passing that we find a lot of German connection in this middle part, between the largely Anglo-French Enlightenment and the German inspired Socialisms. It also is all taking place during the Cocaine Era and after the Tea and Coffee House era of The Enlightenment. The degree to which the relative recreational drugs of the eras influenced the conclusions will be left for another day… but note that as trends move from country to country different National Characters show up in the conclusions.)

There are many interesting bits of too and fro in the link, but this bit caught my eye:

The philosopher Jacques Barzun argues that Romanticism had its roots in the Enlightenment. It was not anti-rational, but balanced rationality against the competing claims of intuition and the sense of justice.

Which just might be the genesis of some of the present chanting about this-justice and that-justice.. like “social justice” that mostly seems more Sturm und Drang than anything sociable or just… but the wailing and gnashing of teeth is just barely begun at that point:

Shadowing it [The Englightenment] has been a resurgent Counter-Enlightenment literature blaming the 18th century faith in reason for 20th century totalitarianism. The locus classicus of this view is Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment” (1947), which traces the degeneration of the general concept of enlightenment from ancient Greece (epitomised by the cunning ‘bourgeois’ hero Odysseus) to 20th century fascism. (They say little about soviet communism, referring to it as a regressive totalitarianism that “clung all too desperately to the heritage of bourgeois philosophy”).

First off, note that word “dialectic”. That’s a dead giveaway of a Marxist. It is right out of their core philosophy. So here we have the shadows of the Marxist / Socialist attack on The Enlightenment that is today picking up steam. We also have biased terminology like “traces the degeneration of” and the added “Red Flag” code word of “bourgeois” (which I’ve only ever seen in the Socialist / Marxist world view). Next a gratuitous tossing in of fascism. Never mind that fascism is a kind of socialism

(yes, it is… it was only Stalin who called it ‘right wing’ as it tossed out the need for the ‘Class Struggle’ and swapped the ‘international’ for a ‘national’ revolution. So it is ‘to the right’ of Stalinist Communism – but to the left of everything else…)
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/some-quotes-on-socialism-and-fascism/
and http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/marx-progressives-socialism-and-agenda-21/

OK, the general point here is pretty simple:
Socialists are dead set against The Enlightenment.

You can do a pretty decent job of sorting things out just by making a check list of what The Enlightenment advocates and what Marx and the various Socialisms advocate. Just compare those two lists to any “soap” someone is selling and you can pigeon hole it pretty quick into “Classical American Enlightenment” vs “New Socialisms”…

In an amusing twist, the wiki then goes WAAaayyy off the deep end by finding a way to equate The Enlightenment (that most of us know from folks like Newton and Voltaire) to the Marquis de Sade! I have to quote this here just because it is so crazy you won’t believe me otherwise:

While this influential book takes ‘enlightenment’ as its target, this includes its 18th century form – which we now call ‘the Enlightenment’ – epitomised by the Marquis de Sade. Many postmodern writers and some feminists (e.g. Jane Flax) have made similar arguments, likewise seeing the Enlightenment conception of reason as totalitarian, and as not having been enlightened enough since, for Adorno and Horkheimer, though it banishes myth it falls back into a further myth, that of individualism and formal (or mythic) equality under instrumental reason.

Michel Foucault, for example, argued that attitudes towards the “insane” during the late-18th and early 19th centuries show that supposedly enlightened notions of humane treatment were not universally adhered to, but instead, that the Age of Reason had to construct an image of “Unreason” against which to take an opposing stand. Berlin himself, although no postmodernist, argues that the Enlightenment’s legacy in the 20th century has been monism (which he claims favours political authoritarianism), whereas the legacy of the Counter-Enlightenment has been pluralism (something he associates with liberalism). These are two of the ‘strange reversals’ of modern intellectual history.

Then we get a litany of Yet More Isms … ratholes of self mental flagellation to absorb yet more time and brain cells. “Postmodernist” “Pluralism” “Authoritarianism” and the ambiguous “liberalism” returns…

OK, a bit of background. At University I made the mistake of taking a Sociology class on a lark. I sort of expected more of a Cultural Anthropology class. It was, in stead, largely a political indoctrination course in “Hate Whitey, Men Are Evil (and all closet rapists), and Capitalism is just Modern Slavery”. Needless to say, I didn’t do too well. My final exam had been graded one way, then that grade got erased and a lower one written on. When I complained that even with that grade per their published rules, I ought to pass (as they didn’t know how to do the math right…) I ended up at the “appeals desk”… The Administration allowed that I was correct and all my scores did add up to a passing grade, but that the professor could do anything they wanted… OK, the UC system lets you repeat a small number of units and replace (i.e. dump) the first grade. I ended up taking the same class AGAIN. Lucky for me that the size was about 500 students and with a name like Smith, nobody notices…

So I would stare out my dorm window, get 1/2 drunk, and type the most extreme and crazy drivel I could think of. As long as it was “Get Whitey” and “Men are evil rapist bastards” or “Straights are sick” and “The Man is Ageist” and similar crap, I got good grades. I ended up with a B+ overall, IIRC. Oh, and two other things. A fairly deep understanding of “Modern Sociology” along with a fairly deep understanding of how Propaganda and Indoctrination passes as education in the university system…

So I’m pretty good at both spouting the Aso-Liberal party line as well as having the Socialist Agenda Moral Relativism BS detector spot their style a long ways away…

And what that BS detector is hollering at me right now is that much of the “anti-Enlightenment” comes right out of that Agenda…

(Realize that I am not, in fact, against things like women making their own decisions, blacks and Mexicans having equal access to society or any of the rest. I spent about 1/2 my day as a kid in a Mexican household at my best friends home, I have always had a strong advocacy for ANY underdog – having been treated poorly for being a ‘smart kid’ myself, etc. etc. I just strongly resent being told I am the problem when I most certainly am not… To be so stereotyped in a sexist, racist way was incredibly offensive to me… and that no mention was made of Irish Indentured Servitude was also telling…)

OK, back off the soap box: What’s very clear is that the various “Loony Lefty Isms” are anti-Enlightenment – and sometimes vigorously.

As we continue down the list, one note about what IS part of The Enlightenment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalism

In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is “any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification” (Lacey 286). In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory “in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive” (Bourke 263). Different degrees of emphasis on this method or theory lead to a range of rationalist standpoints, from the moderate position “that reason has precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge” to the more extreme position that reason is “the unique path to knowledge” (Audi 771). Given a pre-modern understanding of reason, “rationalism” is identical to philosophy, the Socratic life of inquiry, or the zetetic (skeptical) clear interpretation of authority (open to the underlying or essential cause of things as they appear to our sense of certainty). In recent decades, Leo Strauss sought to revive Classical Political Rationalism as a discipline that understands the task of reasoning, not as foundational, but as maieutic. Rationalism should not be confused with rationality, nor with rationalization.

In politics, rationalism is a development of the Enlightenment that emphasizes a “politics of reason” centred upon support of the concepts of rational choice and utilitarianism; this has especially been promoted by liberalism.

Note again that in this context we’re talking Clasi-Liberal, as in “American Libertarian” ideals of liberty.

Liberty. Rationalism. Enlightenment. Religious freedom. Individual empowerment. I think we’re seeing a pattern here in this Enlightenment stuff…

For comparison, the ‘postmodernism’ description sure sounds like double-speak. The most I can get out of it is a vague ‘feel good’ about feminism (but is that the feminism of the Sociology Class with it’s “all men are evil rapists – especially white men” or the feminism of my Celtic Ancestors who were quite comfortable with women as leaders and in battle? Decisions decisions…)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism

Postmodernism is a concept that encompasses a wide range of ideals, methods and practices. It is more importantly not a philosophical movement in itself, but rather, incorporates a number of philosophical and critical methods that can be considered ‘postmodern’, the most familiar include feminism and post-structuralism. Put another way, postmodernism is not a method of doing philosophy, but rather a way of approaching traditional ideas and practices in non-traditional ways that deviate from pre-established superstructural modes. This has caused difficulties in defining what postmodernism actually means or should mean and therefore remains a complex and controversial concept, which continues to be debated. The idea of the postmodern gained momentum through to the 1950s before dominating literature, art and the intellectual scene of the 1960s. Postmodernism’s origins are generally accepted as having being conceived in art around the end of the nineteenth century as a reaction to the stultifying legacy of modern art and continued to expand into other disciplines during the early twentieth century as a reaction against modernism in general.

If you can get anything out of that beyond some guy half drunk at a typewriter working on a thesis and trying to sound important while saying not much… but being politically correct … then you have a future as a Sociology Professor…

As this is already way too long, I’m going to leave the exploration of Socialism, Communism, and their roots in philosophy for a second posting. I will just leave you with one last -ism. (Well, that, and the realization that a host of ills can be cured in America by refusing to allow a flood of neologism -isms to wash away our Enlightenment Heritage…)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positivism

Positivism is philosophy of science based on the view that in the social as well as natural sciences, data derived from sensory experience, and logical and mathematical treatments of such data, are together the exclusive source of all authentic knowledge. Obtaining and “verifying” data that can be received from the senses is known as empirical evidence. Society operates according to laws like the physical world. Introspective and intuitional attempts to gain knowledge are rejected. Though the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of Western thought from the Ancient Egyptians to the present day, the concept was developed in the early 19th century by the philosopher and founding sociologist, Auguste Comte. Comte argued that society operates according to its own laws, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other laws of nature.

Sounds all warm and fuzzy and Sciency like… until you realize that it is not the foundation of the ‘hard sciences’, they were already settled on observation in The Enlightenment. This -ism is particularly for the purpose of putting “social” into the “science” category and tossing out humanity and religion. It specifically claims that any gnosis or ‘knowing of God’ and any religious experience is not “authentic knowledge”. Only data from sensory experience matters, even to things like moral judgments. Has a nice “positive” name, though…

Now in the more limited context of application to the traditional sciences in The Enlightenment, the “scientism” approach has much to recommend it, and we find some familiar names listed. BUT it is this idea that there is no place for ‘introspection’ that leads to things like chucking deaf people into gas chambers with Gypsies and Jews… The Nazi Regime went to great lengths to build a ‘science’ of racial purity, just as the Progressives in the rest of Europe and the USA went to great lengths to build a ‘science’ of Eugenics. All neat and logical and tidy. All based on observation and ‘data’. And all horridly immoral to anyone with a moral compass. But a moral compass requires introspection to find truth. To reach that gnosis of good and evil.

So here we find the foundation of some modern Science, such as Popper. But we must also realize that “all” covers way too much turf, and some things are best left to introspection, and perhaps the occasional talk with God…

Positivism asserts that the only authentic knowledge is that which allows positive verification. As an approach to the philosophy of science deriving from Enlightenment thinkers such as Henri de Saint-Simon and Pierre-Simon Laplace, Auguste Comte saw the scientific method as replacing metaphysics in the history of thought, observing the circular dependence of theory and observation in science. Sociological positivism was later reformulated by Émile Durkheim as a foundation to social research. At the turn of the 20th century the first wave of German sociologists, including Max Weber and Georg Simmel, rejected the doctrine, thus founding the antipositivist tradition in sociology. Later antipositivists and critical theorists have associated positivism with “scientism”; science as ideology.

In the early 20th century, logical positivism—a descendant of Comte’s basic thesis but an independent movement— sprang up in Vienna and grew to become one of the dominant schools in Anglo-American philosophy and the analytic tradition. Logical positivists (or ‘neopositivists’) reject metaphysical speculation and attempted to reduce statements and propositions to pure logic. Critiques of this approach by philosophers such as Karl Popper, Willard Van Orman Quine and Thomas Kuhn have been highly influential, and led to the development of postpositivism. In psychology, the positivist movement was influential in the development of behavioralism and operationalism. In economics, practising researchers tend to emulate the methodological assumptions of classical positivism, but only in a de-facto fashion: the majority of economists do not explicitly concern themselves with matters of epistemology. In jurisprudence, “legal positivism” essentially refers to the rejection of natural law, thus its common meaning with philosophical positivism is somewhat attenuated and in recent generations generally emphasizes the authority of human political structures as opposed to a “scientific” view of law.

Gee, I always liked the way Economists could ‘emulate’ enough to avoid tossed rocks while blowing raspberries at the basic idea ;-)

Some -isms can be a very mixed bag and are likely in need of a good housecleaning…

In comparison there is Naturalism

Methodological naturalism is concerned not with claims about what exists but with methods of learning what is nature. It is strictly the idea that all scientific endeavors—all hypotheses and events—are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. The genesis of nature, e.g., by an act of God, is not addressed. This second sense of naturalism seeks only to provide a framework within which to conduct the scientific study of the laws of nature. Methodological naturalism is a way of acquiring knowledge. It is a distinct system of thought concerned with a cognitive approach to reality, and is thus a philosophy of knowledge. Studies by sociologist Elaine Ecklund suggest that religious scientists do in fact apply methodological naturalism. They report that their religious beliefs affect the way they think about the implications, often moral, of their work, but not the way they practice science.

This seems to me to be a much more sound basis. So many of our greatest scientists of history have had a profound belief in God and Religion (from Newton to Einstein) that I would find it difficult to reject their world view out of hand.

It is not possible for the student of Evolution, for example, to be simply studying the METHOD by which a Creator God does His creation? I find the notion of making the spark of life once, then watching all the diversity of it unfold; much more impressive than some watchmaker at the assembly line making a million different watches…

In Conclusion

We’ve taken a very broad sweep of the -isms of this world, a few of the -ologies, and even an -ocracy or two.

There are a zillion of them, or so it seems, as folks split ever more fine hairs of difference between one set of Angels on the head of one brand of pin, and a different size Angel on some other size pin.

For the traditional path to America as founded, it is not a very long, nor tortuous path. The Ancient Regime, to The Enlightenment, with perhaps a light seasoning of Naturalism in the sciences.

For the other paths, that lead through oh so many failed experiments of history, there is a broad and deep kaleidescope of names, of -isms, of advocates and ideation. Clarity and success, not so much…

In a second posting, I will explore the philosophical roots of The Socialisms. Not from any profound interest in them. I had to study it as part of my degree. There are some minor good points in some forms, especially Market Socialism – or what I sometimes call Socialism Lite – mostly in that it can solve the problems of the Robber Barons and has a decent shot at improving social equity (less extremes of wealth distribution) while still having an efficient economy with market signals for production management.

But rather we will look at the Socialisms for the practical reason that Lange Type Socialism now dominates the global economies and the USA is rapidly headed in that direction. There are some “issues” in it, especially in the Corporatist forms such as was first tried under Fascism in Italy and the National Socialist Workers Party in Germany (Nazi). The “Third Way” Socialisms tend to over centralized control and poorer decision making. There has also been a very disturbing tendency for Socialisms to fall rapidly into a Dictatorial Regime (be it Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, or the present EU Parliament: control moves to the Central Authority and human liberty and freedom abates. That must be a worry…)

For folks not so interested in The Socialisms, but interested in restoring America, I hope this brief survey lets you rapidly focus on what to promote, and to some extent what to avoid. The review of The Socialisms will give a more detailed list of things that have not worked so well… and connections to their philosophical roots.

My bias is to the side of The Enlightenment and Naturalism. I’ve seen little to indicate anything since then has been an improvement… So simply knowing that lets me not be so ‘buffaloed’ if someone starts to spout about “humanist positivism” or the superiority of “moral relativism in the post-modernist reductionist age”. I can simply look at them and calmly state: “I prefer the liberty and humanity of a Naturalist Enlightenment as it works much better.”

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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65 Responses to isms, ocracies and ologies

  1. adolfogiurfa says:

    All this would seem an inextricable entanglement unless you find some a common denominator, a single thread behind the two Roosevelts (“fields of roses”) “It largely started with the Progressive Movement of the Roosevelts (both of them!), and the one you have forgot: Necker
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Necker
    To simplify: There were two sides. One side had the power, lands etc. those were who governed their properties, authorized by Rome/Pope. The other side were we could call now the “bankers”/lenders, who provided money to those in power. In some point of the story these presumably did not get what they wanted, and obviously thought to take the direct control of everything. In order to achieve this goal they had to dethrone all kings and destroy all kingdoms. Then it began the “independence revolutions”, both in North America and South America.
    It seemed good, but, after more than two hundred years, now “they” are in the process of becoming the only power, a kind of New Rome, a sort of a minuscule group of “Pope/bankers” resembling the old despots. In order to get to this level all local sources of power must be removed and replaced, from land properties (using “land reform”) to big corporations´properties (using “mergers”, “aggressive purchases”,etc, which happened in the las 80´s and 90´s). Such big properties as “Tobacco” companies, etc. had to be destroyed or replaced, that was the reason of campaigns against the products they manufactured, etc., etc.
    All this is what things like UN´s Agenda 21 is all about.
    Of course such an ideal is simply mad but it is what is happening right now: A small group of families falling in the same mistake against which they fought in the past.
    In short, the same show that saw Abraham going down from Mount Tabor: He found his people worshiping the Golden Calf

  2. On robber barons: If the government did not have its hand involved tipping the scale, how evil would the idea of robber barons have been? In other words, with no influence to buy and favorable laws to enact, how bad would it have gotten?

    I seem to recall a time of dramatically reducing prices for the commodities, and other effects related to influence buying.

    Also, this old video on isms does a nice job:
    http://level-head.livejournal.com/420028.html

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  3. I am not a student of history, I do not completely understand adolfogiurfa, but I think he is basically “on target.”

    The 1999 movie, “The Matrix,” was probably a wake-up call, but I didn’t see it.

    Since 11 Sept 2011, the USA has become the UN’s police force of the world. Now, while western economies crumble, Americans are “serving fast food to each other” – with very few other jobs available for those who manufactured goods in the US before the industries left to generate CO2 and produce goods elsewhere..

    Scientist became aware of a political agenda of government science after the Climategate emails and documents were released in 2009 and politicians were “unable to see” any problem. Most scientists have since adopted the same selective, but safe, vision of events.

    I am not an economist, I do not understand economics, but I suspect that Americans will be forced to face economic reality very soon, no matter who is elected.

  4. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Oliver :I do say that it is a general fact and they have already succeeded everywhere, but it seems that such a group wants to achieve the goal of a total global governance, but I do not think Russians or Chinese will easily agree. What it bothers more than anything is their silly meddling in our way of life. You could say a lot in the science field, where ideology has taken things to such extremes as to pursue that “God´s particle”, which is really but a distraction maneuver to avoid real and more down to earth breakthroughs in knowledge.

  5. adolfogiurfa says:

    Typo: Instead of “I do” read “I do not”

  6. Larry Geiger says:

    ” just strongly resent being told I am the problem when I most certainly am not… To be so stereotyped in a sexist, racist way was incredibly offensive to me…”

    This was the same moment when I mentally “checked out” of most of the “liberal arts” stuff in college. I did not have much problem with this stuff in high school, though it seems my kids did. But when I started understanding that some folks had decided that it’s my fault, and most all of it is my fault, that’s when I mostly stopped listening.

  7. pyromancer76 says:

    Thank you for your wonderful gift of sorting the wheat from the chaff, productivity (and creativity) from the waste.

    One addition from my reading of history: “progressive” is getting a bum rap. I was shocked when Glen Beck began his rantings (IMHO) on the origin of “evil” in the U.S. by locating it in “progressivism”. In my (past) historical research on late-19th and early-20th century American history, progressivism was a multi-varied movement. Its personal symbol was TR and his enlarging federal government power so as to give “the people” a sense — through their elected representatives — that they (we) had a seat at the table. Robber Barons were taking “it all” (little of their profits going to workers, buying both state and federal politicians, and waging (often private) war against labor unions. Labor unions were a separate problem in themselves, massively populated by new immigrants, mostly from Europe with a goodly number of marxists. In addition labor unions propogated the (corrupt) “boss” in ideology and practice, another variation of pay to pay. I believe this “enlightenment” aspect of “progressive” must be reconsidered.

    Meanwhile, I refuse to give up to label “liberal” to radical socialists. I prefer “authoritarians” for them. In addition, I think “libertarian” gets too close to the values that created Robber Barons. As much as I supported Perry because of a hope to encourage the values of the Texas economy for the national, I cannot support a Flat Tax. There is too much variability in wealth and assets in our huge country. Progressive taxation is a necessity (fairness), as is workfare for all government assistance. Can you find any virtue in the definition of “progressive” as a practice/attitude that works toward the position of a “fair referree”, no matter how difficult it is to attain/maintain in practice? FDR’s administration was filled with marxists and fellow travelers; TR’s was not. Somehow a requirement for the fair and reasonable operation of givernment does not seem to me to be socialism-lite, including conservaion as opposed to “environmentalism”. Reality might not match the ideal, but it seems to me to an eligntenment-like task to advocate it and work toward it.

    Regardless, I look forward the next — and further — installment!

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adolfo:

    I think that’s basically correct. The folks who set out to save the world forgot that the grand-kids might be more interested in the fruits of the labor of others…

    The manipulations can be quite obvious once you start asking bothersome questions like:

    “If the problem was ‘too big to fail’ why did the cure create BIGGER and FEWER banks concentrated in a narrower and more ‘connected’ set of hands?”

    @Keith DeHavelle:

    We “lived the dream” for a while. Railroads would suddenly stop carrying farmers goods, then buy the failed farms. Standard Oil made such an art of Predatory Pricing that the Rockerfellers dominated pretty much ALL US oil (eventually ending in the ‘break up’ into Exxon, Mobile, Standard, Texaco, etc. etc. that have now largely recombined) They would put a gas station on a corner of a new target and price gasoline well below cost (as they had a giant wallet behind them). No small operators could stay in business for a year or two of loosing money. Once everyone else was bankrupt, they would buy the stations and jack up the prices to monopoly levels. You had your choice, of course, of any of there half dozen brands…

    At times, some cities had gas prices double or triple that of other towns. They refused to process small producers oil in their refineries, then would buy the oil lands cheap at bankruptcy. Etc. etc.

    There is plenty of evidence in the economic history books for “Monopoly practices” causing economic destruction for the non-monopolists and for the prices after monopoly (or cooperating oligopoly) is achieved being damagingly high to the economy as a whole.

    BTW, not all monopolies are giants… Most of marketing is based on trying to establish a ‘local monopoly’ via branding. Just look at the prices for Coach handbags, Gucci shoes, or even just Starbucks Coffee. That $4 Starbucks vs $1 elsewhere gives a clue (and they only have a partial monopoly power via branding…)

    So if you would like $12 / gallon gas, $4 to $6 cups of coffee, $3000 shoes, and $5 loaves of bread, hey, no problem with those Robber Barons… Unless, of course, you want to ship farm goods or coal or cars and the rail road has decided they want to buy your business next, at bankruptcy court… We won’t even mention the Pullman Riots and using police to kill workers wanting to form a union and get a bit of ‘countervailing power’… So expect to work a 7 day week of 12 hours a day with 30 minutes for lunch… at minimum wage…. oh, wait, there won’t be a minimum wage… Buy politicians and all that…

    So yes, just look at the coal mining “Company Store” in our common culture… Prices carefully set to fully consume all the wages of the miners, and then just a bit more. If you didn’t like it, you could always try shopping somewhere else… except that the company transportation didn’t go there, and your “script” was not negotiable there, and you didn’t have time off to go shopping there, and…. Yes, it was that bad…

    @Oliver K. Manuel:

    Economics is simple, really. “Who, makes what, for whom?” All else is elaboration ;-)

    Peasants make everything for Nobility: The Ancient Regime / Feudalism

    Peasants make everything for Robber Barons: The Laissez Faire market

    Peasants make everything for The Commissars: Communism

    Peasants make everything, some for them, most for the Commissars and those with a good sob story and politically favored groups: Socialism

    A blend of peasants and some middle class make what they want for each other, with some roped into working for Robber Baron wanna-be types, the Government creams off a bit for the lazy with a good story and the truly needed: Modern “Mixed Economy” or “Regulated Capitalism”

    You can use the presence of a clear and growing middle class as a direct indicator of the ‘worth’ of an economic system, IMHO…

    @Larry Geiger:

    Such is the genesis of “Reactionary Elements” ;-)

    @Pyromancer76:

    You are most welcome. It seems to be “what I do…”

    BTW, you have put your finger firmly on the reason why I tossed a couple of rocks at the Progressive movement but stopped short of expounding. It will take a fairly long posting to show it transitioning from being a good “Countervailing power” to Robber Barons and slowly mutating into what it is today.

    The point on LIbertarians is one I wince over also. Frankly, the reason I cooked up Clasi-Liberal vs ASo-Liberal was because the USA Libertarian movement dances too closely to Laissiz Fair and the Bad Old Days (well, that, and it has some other nutty details like wanting folks to litigate any and all perceived problems… Do I REALLY want everyone needing to sue independently for Electric Cars that explode into flames on impact?… Some central regulation is a good thing…)

    So my suggestion for ‘hanging on to’ the good definition of Liberal is simple: Whenever you talk about yourself, say “Classic Liberal” or “Clasi-liberal”, then explain it. Whenever confronted with a discussion of the Negative Sort, point out the history of the American Social Liberal, how it is the exact opposite of the general history of Liberalism, and suggest calling it “ASo-Liberal” or “Social-Liberal” or even “Socialist relabeled as liberal” depending on the specifics.

    But this posting was mostly intended to find the roots of “the good stuff”. The Enlightenment and Naturalism… Now we know where to sink our spade to plant new seeds…

    To cover the “Here there be dragons!” -isms and sort out which WERE good ideas and just how they were corrupted will take more space than fits in this posting; given what is already here. But…

    One example:

    Socialism has a root back in the Utopian Movement. These were folks who founded cooperatives like The Amana commune. They chose to make appliances. One of the few that lasted very long and with a nearly legendary quality. Many were also very religious in nature. How this religious movement of love of fellow traveler and deep sharing in equality got turned into a movement with Central Planned Authority, anti-religious, and nearly rabid hate for non-compliance is a hard story to tell… but it comes from Germany in a time just before Marx and Hitler… As the Utopian culture (that came largely from the UK) transitioned through Germany “something changed”…

    (Yes, a ‘cliff hanger’ for ‘part two’ ;-)

  9. Serioso says:

    I have trouble figuring out just who are the “socialists” you rail against. Are they the social-democrats who control many of the governments of western Europe? If so, what specifically do you have against them? I have many European friends, and almost all of them seem to like, respect and even trust their own governments. What is wrong with the Europeans who like socialist democracy? [I have my own preferences: Having lived in Europe I much prefer the USA, which is far more innovative, and where it is far easier to start a new business, but I see nothing wrong with Europeans preferring a more egalitarian and less stressful way of life. But that's THEIR choice.]

  10. Pascvaks says:

    The Enlightenment -“It was, at it’s core, a movement away from a world driven by a Religious Authority and away from a world driven by a Civil Central Authority (be they Kings or Emperors) and toward a world of free individuals thinking for themselves.”(EM)

    This is a big ‘IT’. With the onslaught of the Reformation (and the religious civil wars), the infallible, almighty power of the Church’ became fallible and not so mighty, and quite divided. Once the anointed leaders of the Heaven on Earth were forevermore put in check, it was a short walk from church on Sunday to the palaces to question the Right and Rule of mere Kings. Catholic indulgences and relics for money was a BIG BIG Booo-Booo. More early disenchantment roots probably go back to the Crusades, war is not only a hell of a way to make converts, the longer it goes on it kind’a makes your own flock think twice about your infallibility too.

    Once you’ve done the previously unthinkable and put a squash on the Pope, then moved on to the King, then said ‘We The People’ a few million times, it’s not hard to imagine some of the more stupid among us thinking the unthinkable and telling everyone that anarchy is painless and ‘God is Dead’.

    Like the problem people have with pure Democracy or pure Capitalism, the fanatics haven’t had their pure Anarchy in a Godless Society yet, and there’s just no telling them that they’re digging a big, bad hole that they’re not going to like and will find difficult to get out of once they’re in. No doubt, as Democracy devolves to Dictatorship, Anarchy will too. Purists are fanatics, they don’t listen to reason unless it‘s from one of their own. What to do? Close the public school system for starters; give the parents of school age children a tax break and let them pick their own private school with values that reflect their own. Close down 50% of the federal government would be a good number two. Term limits would be a good three. And, going back to Senators selected by state legislators would be a good four. Assigning expiration dates to laws and programs and requiring supermajorities to keep them alive for another period would be a good five. Who knew people had to reassess and tweak governments the same way they did everything else in life?

    When it comes to “isms, ocracies and ologies” in the political context, they are very much like the various groups, sects, breakaways, offshoots, and copy-cats of Protestantism since the Reformation. If you don’t like what this group subscribes to, move to another, more friendly place, or start your own “ism, ocracy and ology”. It like the NYC transit system. Communication seems to have something to do with it to: printing press, books, pamphlets, newspapers, radio, TV, Internet, hummmmm… well, maybe when we have to move back into the caves things will calm down a little? (Until we have two guys who want to be the cave clan Witchdoctor;-)

  11. david says:

    An interesting case study is how secular humanist currently view the writings of Max Weber/

    Weber taught that the protestant work ethic (a term he coined) when exposed to capitalism, (in this case the striving for personal gain) morphed into evil selfishness, as the religious ideals of an all inclusive brotherhood, and Protestant ideals of simplicity and working hard, but not for self gain, were lost due to the evil influence of capitalism. Reiterated in a different way, it was Weber’s view was that it was the loss of this selfless religious restraint, due to the spirit of capitalism, (the idea of a rational pursuit for personal prosperity) that was an inevitable result of the combining of the protestant work ethic with capitalism.

    Talk with any kid today with a degree in the social or political sciences and they will tell you that Weber showed how “the U.S. was founded by a group of religious fanatics who were too prudish for Britain. that should say more than enough”. Yes this is a quote from a phd student named “Nik” an anti religious secular humanist progressive friend of my daughter. When I pointed out that this was clearly not the case, he pointed to the work of Max Weber. So the secular humanist rewrite their own history to support stateISM, ignoring that Weber was lamenting the LOSS of religious values. Niks statement that Puritanism has had a huge impact on american society…” and …” the U.S. was founded by a group of religious fanatics who were too prudish for Britain”. are not a correct presentation of either the founding of this country, or of what the protestant impact on American culture was. Nik appears to be saying that it was the narrow minded absolutist moral failings of the protestant religious culture that were the essence of what America became, and to this day is.

    Weber’s writings were actually used by Adolf Hitler to institute rule by decree, allowing Hitler’s government to suppress opposition and obtain dictatorial powers. I feel this would have horrified Weber, and in my view the fact that this happened was a reflection of Weber’s, and many sociologist, fundamental flaws in their views on capitalism, socialism, communism etc. In his later years Weber became disenchanted with socialism, both in European and Bolshevik variations.

    Well supporting this view of Weber, is that he eventually perceived Lenin’s ideal of inserting a hierarchical mode of organization society, as an attempt to enslave the common man. Weber “ believed that workers in socialist society still would work in hierarchy, but this time in much worse form of it, fused with government power“

    I think that due to Weber’s late caution with socialism, eventually he would have perceived socialism as being fodder for the Marxism that flourished under Weber’s contemporary, Lenin.
    The fact that Marxism advocated a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism that would lead to socialism before eventually transforming into communism, after class antagonisms and the state ceased to exist; was, I hope, in the end, not lost on Weber. However Weber’s own earlier attempts to organize a liberal social party in the US were rejected by the US left, as too extreme and revolutionary,

    The Unites States recognition of the right to seek self gain, (capitalism) combined with the fact that we are a “republic” guaranteeing freedom from tyranny of other groups or from the tyranny of the majority, be that majority religious, political, corporate, or a combination thereof, is highly moral. However in empowering the individual there must be a strong co-commitment element of self-responsibility. One cannot expect the protections such a society enables, without both self responsibility and offering some form of service back to that society.

    The love of power for the purpose of subjugating others for one’s own ends cannot be removed by any system. It just operates less effectively within a system built expressly for protection from such tyranny. The responsibility of the US form of government is to prevent the formation of such tyrannies: Corporate monopolies that unfairly drive out competition, lobby groups looking for special privileges, banking methods that rig the monetary system and allow leverage of assets tantamount to gambling, fractional reserve banking on steroids, government decisions making risk public but profit private, government sponsored enterprises that, under direct supervision of government regulators do all of the above, are not caused by a capitalist / republic, but are a sick perversion of it, caused by the love of power over others, and the lack of wisdom as revealed by satama dharma. It is the failure of the US government to police the above which is dereliction of their PRIMARY responsibility, the protection of individual freedom and power, from the tyranny of those with GROUP power. .

  12. tckev says:

    EM you asked
    “But which caused whom? IMHO, the environment lead to the formation of both the Freemasons and the Enlightenment thinking. Both came together when they came.”
    I believe some answers are within the writings of the great man Thomas Paine
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine
    A true giant of history, scaling as he did French and American Revolutions, and stirring up political descent back at his home country England. He is such an under-rated linchpin figure during this period.

  13. kuhnkat says:

    EM,

    You need to do more digging into Robber Barons. They have little to do with Capitalism and a lot to do with gubmint Cronies and flat out Crooks. Nowadays it is called Crony Capitalism which, again, has nothing to do with capitalism and more to do with Fascism. For instance the Railroad Barons could not have done much without the gubmint condemning land for them to buy extremely cheap and getting ridiculous amounts of money for building the lines through bad areas where they would get more per mile in bonuses!!! Yeah, they built a steeper route through the Sierras than necessary just to get the bonuses!!! What highlights how corrupt this was is the the Northern Railroad which was built with all private funding and no government interference to obtain land and was profitable for much longer than the crooks involved in the southern enterprise!! Oh, and was completed in less time!!!!

    It is gubmint interference in regulating, or micromanaging business that is the great money magnet and corruptor! Socialism, by definition, has to have gubmint involved in everything attracting the power and money mad. It is not for nothing that Marx, Lenin and fellow travelers consider socialism just a way point on the way to Communism/Fascism. The Robber Barons were not possible until the gubmint had started going past the Constitutional limitations on its activities!! In other words, moving toward a socialist environment with nanny gubmint enabled the Robber Barons just as now.

    Are you familiar with the gubmint breaking up the AT&T monopoly?? We were all taught how this was necessary because we were being ripped off by the evil AT&T. Guess what, the prices went UP after they were broken up and service has never been as good.

    I would point out that it was this same type of Business/Gubmint collaboration that caused the rift that ended up in the War Between the States also!!!

  14. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: Such a “company store” and the movement against workers exploitation in mines it has a place and even a memorial, remember the death of many workmen, in Colorado?. The owners?….the same nice guys.
    We cannot generalize as some known dictator of the recent past did, blaming all members of a religion/race. The pursue of happiness through healthy work and even the related need to achieve richness for the good of your family, it´s OK. the trouble is when it becomes the sole purpose of live, becoming an illness: That was what Abraham found when coming down from Mount Tabor.
    About moral/religious values: Weber was lamenting the LOSS of religious values….
    There is a saying: “A little of science separates from God, a lot of science gets you closer God”
    If science would be real science it would have discovered long time ago that moral/religious principles/values are not just “philosophical” or immaterial entities, but NATURAL laws to be fulfilled if live is to be sane and proper. Try any excess to see what happens. C.G.Jung wrote about the libido , such energy transmitting and sustaining life, as following the same Sadi Carnot´s laws of thermodynamics, then it follows that there are rules and natural laws to be fulfilled and if we don´t we just spoil our lives, our families, our societies and our entire countries.
    One known philosopher said: Our teaching is more material than materialism. Meaning that one of the big cheats of pseudo-science and official religion too, was the imaginary dichotomy between matter and spirit. There is no such thing. That was a very convenient antithesis that the old “red haired Celts” never believed.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @Kuhnkat:

    Um, saying that one thing is bad does not say the other is good.

    I spent more class hours than I car to think in study of exactly the rail road issues you mention. The US Govt GAVE one SQUARE MILE of land on a side of each mile of track laid. That the behaviour was, IMHO immoral is an orthogonal issue from what they did with the pricing and carry rules on that line once laid. BOTH are WRONG. Saying one is a wrong is NOT saying the other was right, nor ignoring it. I could do about 10 hours on things wrong in how the railroads were handled. (BtW, Sprint was an outgrowth of Southern Pacific Railroad. They laid fiber on their rights of ways and leveraged that local monopoly…)

    But there is only so much that can be typed in an hour…

    Robber Barons were quite happy to use EITHER crony capitalism OR lassiez faire capitolism. That they did one did not preclude the other… (Take a look at OPEC today. It is a text book example of a CARTEL with the purpose of raising costs to others. Or look at the AMA as a “doctors union” keeping the lid on the supply of new doctors. Or… well, it’s a very long list…

    But again, just look at Standard Oil, the early days. Substantially NOT government driven. (Later the “Texas Railroad Commission:” formed an oil cartel that became the model for OPEC, that that is long after the Standard Oil Issues…)

  16. R. Shearer says:

    So is it hopeless? Is there a dictator in waiting already on the scene?

  17. david says:

    I do agree that any system unfettered, is equally vulnerable to the dark side of human nature, and capitalism is not exempt. Equal opportunity is somthing the Govt can work to enable, equal results, down that road lies tyranny.. .

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. Shearer:

    Most likely. But one can work to make that point 1000 years in the future instead of 10…

    @David:

    Well put.

  19. Wayne Job says:

    EM in some countries living people are, rather than crown jewels, given the title of national treasures. Your insight and wit in a normal society would give you this title, not so easy in this post normal world. The times and tides always change, and those that seek to control us now will be the has beens of the future.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    @Wayne Job:

    Blush! Well, stammer, thanks!

    @Serioso:

    Part of my “complaint” about The Socialisms is that there are just so many kinds of them. Constantly mutating, always trying to find a way that will actually work “this time for sure”… never seeming to bother looking at the long trail of failed socialist experiments before them, stretching all the way back to the first Utopian societies and reaching the spectacular heights of the USSR implosion.

    Per Europeans: I don’t care what they do. From Fascism to Marxism to Stalinism to Nazism to all the other -isms they’ve inflicted on the world. Just so long as it doesn’t require U.S. lives or treasure to fix it, again, and again, and again. ( W.W.I, W.W.II, Cold War, and probably a few others I’ve forgotten).

    Per the present crop of Socialist Experiments (including the various Christian Democratic Socialists, and New Age Market Socialists, and whatever): Feel free to guild your cage how ever you like, and to read yourself to sleep with all the fairy tales that please you. Socialisms tend to last about 50 years, then collapse. Some a bit longer, some spectacularly shorter. It largely depends on how fast the money is squandered, how big a loan / line of credit can be found, and who can be suckered into the Ponzi Scheme. Right now, we’ve got Greece imploding, Spain on deck, Italy in the wings, and Ireland warming up… more on the bench…

    W.W.II ended about 60 years ago. Gee… Now add in that the USA has picked up a large chunk of defense costs for Europe for that time, and sent a lot more money over in everything from the Marshal Plan to direct investments to IMF infusions to … Oh, and need I point out the simple fact that the UK was way into the doldrums / dumper until Maggy Thatcher rolled back a bit of the excesses and got things going again, for a little while?

    You see, what confuses folks is they think everything is fine because the gas tank isn’t empty on the car, right up until it dies. And it IS fine for the early ones into the scheme. Especially if you can have an intergenerational debt transfer… And folks are especially bad at noticing it when there is a multi decade onset of such problems.

    All sorts of excuses will be found for why it isn’t really their basic system. It will be blamed on other countries, other peoples, other economic forces, other everything. Yet when those same external things hit a non-socialist system, the results are far different. Capitalism is far more flexible and efficient.

    So, my ‘complaint’ about socialism is simply this: ALL of them end in an excess of hand outs, excess of taxation, and financial imprudence. Except for the ones that end in spectacular collapses or wars. All that changes is the “how long” and the particulars of the excess. All of them suffer rather dramatic loss of personal liberty (though often the participants don’t notice it as they have not lived in a truly free place.)

    No, I’ll not indulge a laundry list of all the who, when, and where in this thread. You can bring it up when I’ve got the socialism set done and posted. Probably about 2 days. The basic failure can be seen in the problems of unfunded retirement plans around the world and the medical systems that are restrictive of individual choice and rights while being terribly intrusive as well. We are just now getting that kind of crap shoved down our throats “over here”, but I first started experiencing it while visiting family in the UK many decades ago.

    So in the USA “cat scans” became so common they are used like an X-ray on a variety of modest ills; while at the same time in the Canadian and UK systems, folks were wait-listed for months. “Medical Tourism” speaks volumes. But hey, you folks want it, go right ahead… And all those Greeks who enjoyed 30 years of The Sweet Life and rich retirements had a LOVELY Socialist Experience; but the current crop are stuck with the bill and having riots… Still, your choice, enjoy it. What I don’t like; is that MY government is starting to emulate it.

    So we’re headed down the same path of excessive “social promises”, the same “insider dealing” with the Central Planners picking winner cronies and self dealing, and with public sector debt rising to excess to pay for things like “free” medical care (that is becoming of lessened quality and quantity while having prices rise fantastically) Welcome to Socialism Lite… At least we’re not in the extreme case like the old USSR – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics…

    Please note: I have many times said two things that you seem to have not noticed, or have chosen to ignore: 1) Socialism can act to provide very rapid and directed growth in early stages of economic development. 2) I can make a pretty good economic case for Lange Type Socialism.

    So my ‘railing’ against it is not as much as you seem to claim. I have not desire for a Lassiez Faire wild west of Robber Barons. About like the 1950s to 60s would be fine, Early stage ‘mixed economy’, minimal regulation, strong local delegation.

    My only real complaint about Lange Type Socialism is that there is precious little evidence that it will STAY limited and constrained. So far, the ‘mission creep’ aspect of the public wanting more largess has always gone one way, and always ended badly. There is little reason to think this time will be different. Other than that, it does a better job of preventing Robber Barons and their problems, and it does a better job of providing a simple and secure society. There is some indication that you have less efficiency in those agencies ( I can’t call them companies) that are substantially State Owned and there is some indication that insider self dealing still happens, but I have not found numbers for comparison.

    Oh, and the Central Planned Authority nature of it just squashes individual freedoms and innovation, but folks don’t notice that once they are comfortable in their centrally planned and managed lives…

    As long as somewhere in the world has an Apple inventing the iPods and iPhones of the world… Or do you think that two guys without college degrees could just set up a major corporation to overturn the planned established world of computing and telephony in a Central Planning world and not get crushed by the system?… THAT is real freedom. NO authority telling you that you can’t change the world, or in what prescribed ways you are “allowed” to do things… The freedom to dream big, and do it.

    Right now we’re stuck with a terrible problem, precisely because we have gone to a Central Planning and regulated model in energy. It is nearly impossible do things now involving fuels and energy without dozens of central boards and commissions saying it’s OK. As a result, where in prior times some guys would have just built some coal to liquids factories and started selling synthetic Diesel and Gasoline for about $2.50 / gallon, they are effectively prevented. (The regulatory bodies end up ‘captured’ by the regulated industries; eventually merging into one “Commission” in the limit case). In the 1970s I could have just tossed a CNG or LPG kit on my car and told oil companies to stuff it. Today there are at least 3 commissions that I know of that must be involved. As a result, it doesn’t happen. (and we are only at the early stages..) All these things here, being done based on emulation of the European Model… (Yes, I can buy such ‘kits’ but they now are priced much higher and are much less available, only to be installed by licensed folks and with mandatory recertifications making them pointless.)

    In essence, the flexibility and creativity gets slowly crushed out of the economy. Things ossify, stagnate, and opportunities fade. Ask the 40% or so unemployed youth in Spain… Were it not for a maze of laws preventing it, those folks would all be working. In a truly free market, the market will find a clearing price. In strongly regulated markets, with minimum wage laws (yes, a ‘progressive’ and ‘socialists’ program), no such clearance can happen. With other barriers to entry, such as high credentialing requirements, folks can not transition careers as needed. (No; such credentials do not exist just to ‘improve quality’, mostly they act to restrain supply and raise prices.) I can’t just go start a bank, or even a hairdressing salon. I have to go to the Commissars first. It was not always that way… The “mixed economy” is the lowest level of “Socialism Lite” and we have moved past that into Lange Type Socialism. Things were better before.

    So ‘which socialism’ is it that bothers me? Mostly the one I am being forced into against my will. A little bit the one I watched hobble my Mother’s native land (UK), and a little bit the ones that tried for 40 years or so to gain World Domination and required me and mine to waste so much time and treasure to keep them in check. Recently, the resurgence of similar desires for World Control via the Socialist Model (but minus all that public input and control…) has caused me to once again wish for it to just be gone… But you can feel free to live in that cage if you like. I understand they assure you of fresh kibble every day and a comfortable end… unless the money runs out and you get riots…

  21. Pascvaks says:

    And, on this side of the Pond, who is the OFFICIAL Gate Keeper? Who says, ‘This in OK (usually by silence)’ and ‘This is a No-No, go back and try again!’; and is there a real problem today (and yesterday) with the Supremes and the way they interpret the Constitution and guage the efficiency of the system that they and they alone “Allow”? Ahhhhh.. I think so. Civil War or Revolution results when when they fail. They are responsible for ensuring that all the pressure release valves don’t stick and nothing gets too far our of whack one way or the other. They now have a zillion guages to check, I think they’ve allowed things to get bigger than they can effectively monitor, and the Beast –called “Feddie”— is out of spec with the plan on file. That’s a Very BIG Problem. If I were one of The Nine, I’d be tempted to find that the monster inside the Beltway was way too big and fat and mad and hungry to effectively control, and it was long past time for an operation to insert a restrictor or twenty, and a BIG shift power back to the States. (I think I’d also have a rubber stamp made: “UNCONSTITUTIONAL”, to save some time and allow for more ‘reviews’ of past abuses too.) It’s a Three Legged Stool alright, and all three have be abusing their authority and ignoring their charter.

    PS: In 50-100 years when things again get out of balance, they’ll have to shift everything the other way too. Ain’t life a Beach? Countries take a lot of tending or they rust and fail. Who knew? They don’t teach that in College anymore I guess.

  22. Jason Calley says:

    @ Pascvaks “If I were one of The Nine, I’d be tempted to find that the monster inside the Beltway was way too big and fat and mad and hungry to effectively control.”

    And the problem is that because you feel that way, you are one of the 300,000,000 people who will NEVER be on the Supreme Court. If even simple minded birds of a feather can flock, when we will realize that unscrupulous sociopaths will flock much more efficiently? The parasitic infection of our governmental agencies (yes, even our noble scientists at NASA! Even our noble warriors leading the military!) has, in fact, passed the tipping point. Criminals control who is appointed to the courts, who are the candidates for public office, and if by accident or direct intercession of God some good person receives a majority of votes, the criminals control how our votes are counted. All gardens left untended go to weeds, even the ones which were well planned and executed in the beginning, and not merely the socialist ones. I could rant more. I won’t — only to say that until a large fraction of our population sees just how bad things have gotten, we will never make things better.

    PS Pardon the vitriol. I feel better now, for a least a moment.

  23. Pascvaks says:

    @Jason-
    Well, you sort’a rounded out what I was trying to say about Civil Wars and Revolutions, if one of the three legs doesn’t compensate for the sever tilt of the USS Titanic (and the one who says what is and ain’t Constitutional ‘today’ is The Good Ol’ Supremes) then she and we are a’going down, down to the bottom of the deep blue sea. We know that ‘The Chinese Piper’ is going to demand payment in full and we ain’t got no money, don’t think it will be long before everyone on the planet knows we’re going down by the bow in a hurry? Hope each of the states has taken precautions to go it alone for a while and print their own money, got a feeling the Green Back Dollar will be really worthless then (and not just “mostly” as it is now;-). No, really, I don’t expect the Supremes to do right by anyone, I expect we will fail and soon; this was all ‘academic’, as they say; just blowin’ smoke and whitlin’ around the pot-belly stove, just ‘chewin’ the fat and watchin’ the village folks comin’ in and goin’ out the door on a nice and cool winter day.

  24. Jason Calley says:

    Yes… you have it right I think.

    “Myself when young did eagerly frequent
    Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
    About it and about: but evermore
    Came out by the same Door as in I went.”

    or perhaps

    “Ah Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
    To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
    Would not we shatter it to bits–and then
    Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!”

    In truth, long term and large scale, I remain optimistic. :)

  25. David says:

    Omar Khayyam! nice !

  26. Conclusion: The United Nations was formed on 24 Oct 1945 out of fear of the “nuclear fire” that vaporization of Hiroshima on 6 Aug 1945.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,368205,00.html

    Fear of man-made “nuclear fire” convinced world leaders and leaders of scientific community to ignore, obscure or avoid revealing any subsequent finding that might lead reveal the trigger – neutron repulsion [1].

    My research mentor, the late Professor Paul K. Kuroda, was Dr. Kazuo Kuroda of the Imperial University of Japan during WWII. The US military relocated Dr. Kuroda to the United States after WWII.

    http://www.omatumr.com/abstracts2005/PKKAutobiography.pdf

    His effort to report in 1956 that a “nuclear fire” had occurred spontaneously on Earth was almost, but not quite successfully, blocked from publication [2-4].

    Government deception culminated in Climategate emails and documents that became public in Nov 2009.

    During this period (1956-2009), a CSPAN video recording accidently caught “one candid glimpse” of government science at work on 7 Jan 1998:

    Unless we can now convince frightened world leaders that we are willing to help them to avoid the realistic dangers of:

    A. Global Climate Change;
    B. Mutual Nuclear Annihilation;
    C. Pollution of the Environment;
    D. Overpopulation of the Earth; and
    E. Natural Aggressiveness in Humans,

    They may next resort to the use of new technology like this:

    http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/scitech/science/030212-japan-invents-speech-jamming-gun-that-silences-people-mid-sentence

    Moral: Power corrupted, but those who misused power are now living in fear.

    1. O. K. Manuel, The APEIRON Journal, in press (2012)
    __ http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1102/1102.1499.pdf

    2. P. K. Kuroda, J. Chem. Phys. 25, 781 and 1295 (1956)

    3. P. K. Kuroda, Naturwissenschaften 70, 536-539 (1983)
    __ http://www.springerlink.com/content/n556224311414604/

    4. P. K. Kuroda, “Origin of the Chemical Elements and the Oklo Phenomenon” (1982)

    Recommended music:

  27. Ian Ogilvie says:

    Dear EM your library should have a copy of Arthur Goldwag’s dictionary, “Isms and Ologies” containing over 400 such definitions. ISBN978 1 84724350 8
    It is one of the most entertaining and enightening illustrations of the human condition.
    As the author says in his introductory note,”The more isms, the more schisms. Perhaps thats the ultimate dialectic of human progress”.

  28. The existence of modern digital communications is likely to have profound effects on human organization just as the invention of printing once had. William Rees-Mogg (Cymru am byth!) and James Dale Davidson, published a book (1999) called the “Sovereign Individual”.

    Their early chapters give the impression that these fine gentlemen were smoking some very powerful weed. However they eventually convinced me that the Internet was likely to bring about changes not unlike the vanishing creators in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”.

    The “Sovereign Individual” will be able to remove himself from jurisdictions that impose excessive taxes because wealth creating technology is much more portable than it used to be.

    We are already seeing the early stages of this trend as our blue collar jobs move “Offshore” followed by growing numbers of white collar jobs. The only way to get them back will be to implement a low corporate tax structure coupled with the elimination of organizations that exist mainly to frustrate wealth creation.

    Obama is talking about lowering corporate tax rates to 28%; while this will help it is way too timid. The Republic of Ireland has a corporate tax rate of 18% while some ex-Comecon countries have rates as low as 10%.

    Societies that want to be prosperous will find ways to attract “Sovereign Individuals”. Those that choose to demonize them are headed towards a future that looks like North Korea.

    We have a choice but recent events in the USA cause me to fear that Obama has picked up John Edward’s banner of “Class Envy” that will accelerate the exodus of “Sovereign Individuals”. At the same time the EPA and other wealth destroying organizations reign unchecked.

  29. Ian Ogilvie says:

    PS
    Don’t get to het up with Goldwag’s use of the word, “dialectic”. In the context of some of those frustrations you describe in attempting to makes sense of isms in this post he uses it appropriately and ironicly to describe that neurotic tendency of mankind to try and catalogue our thoughts for expedience, motive, or to the point of madness.

  30. kuhnkat says:

    EM,

    You cannot separate the fact that the Robber Barons were enabled by unConstitutional Acts of the Gubmint. Capitalism is NOT the use of gubmint collaboration. Some would claim that using Gubmint is a perfectly OK function within Capitalism. Of course, that is why the founders tried to limit gubmint!! Capitalism in its vague definition is NOT Gubmint or what gubmint does. Under a pure Capitalist system the Robber Barons would have collapsed from competition. Only their collaboration with Gubmint, closer to a fascist organization, gave them the power of monopoly and ability to extort without competition, not to mention the AUTHORITY in Federal Marshals and local Law to prevent retaliation from those being abused.

    Most people understand that Billy the Kid and similar types were held in high esteem because they were targeting these same oppressive people. Without the Federal Gubmint behind them they would not have lasted very long.

    Even then the people could have refused to do business with them!!! People CHOSE to use their services just as people CHOSE to be employed by sweatshops and then created Unions to break them. Unions which could NOT have remained in existance without Political collaboration!!!

    We also need to clarify the idea of things being bad or good. Communism COULD be quite wonderful. Unfortunately human nature means it will always deteriorate into authoritarian oppression. Democracy has been shown repeatedly to deteriorate into a Mobocracy. Capitalism as a system is not good or bad and can be abused just as the polical systems. You must balance the alternatives INCLUDING what HUMANS are most likely to do with it. As soon as you have a structure where a group starts deciding for others and the authority to ENFOCE those decisions the problems migrate to that point of control. Our founders struggled with that question with their first failed attempt at a Union.

    Capitalism is only a little better than your alternative as it, along with everything else, has humans running it. As it accepts that everyone will be more likely self interested it starts from a slightly more aware position. Ideally Capitalists would recognize that collaboration with other businesses, including competitors, would expand the market and help everyone. We know that many do not play that way, but, are limited by not having AUTHORITY to use. When the gubmint is introduced into the mix we then have the AUTHORITY to create monopolies, manipulate markets, and “INVEST IN THE FUTURE!!”

  31. E.M.Smith says:

    @Kuhnkat:

    Um, I think you are attacking something I did not say.

    I never asserted there was NO evil collaboration of government and industry in the era of the Robber Barons. All I did was provide some examples of how it was also possible (and, in fact, done) without such collaboration.

    In effect I am specifically saying that there are at least 2 ‘evil ways’ of Robber Barons but one of them need not have Government Favor to work (while one of the others does).

    Again, read the Standard Oil example. The “predatory pricing” (a term of art in Economics) was done at the local level street corner by street corner small town by small town. NO Government involvement. (The best example of the ‘other kind’ was rail roads where the government gave them one square mile of land, on alternating sides of the track, for each mile of track laid. Talk about a gift… To this day the land holding of the old Southern Pacific Railroad make them one of the largest land ‘oligopoly’ holders in many States).

    That Southern Pacific got Government Largess does not say Standard Oil was not able to become a Robber Baron without it…

    So yes, you can not separate the ERA of the Robber Barons from US Federal Government largess, but also, yes, you CAN separate SOME Robber Barons from Government action. ( I would assert that “some” is really “most”, but that would take some work to gather the data and I just don’t want to do that right now.) The largest factor was the formation of trusts and cartels “in restraint of competition”, followed closely by “predatory pricing” and other monopoly practices (such as discrimination in rail carriage of goods – that lead to the “Common Carrier” laws that forbids using ‘who you will carry’ to damage selected competition…) That is why it was exactly those acts that were forbidden in the “Anti-Trust” legislation and the “common carrier” legislation.

    And, no, Trusts, Cartels, and Robber Barons are not “collapsed by competition”. I’m sorry you think otherwise, because “Reality just is. -E.M.Smith”… and the reality of it is that BY DEFINITION a monopoly or an effective Cartel has no effective competition. There is a very large and complete body of work about optimal pricing in a monopoly ( I had to learn it so that I could set prices effectively if hired by a Monopoly, OR, know what not to allow if hired by a Regulator – Economists work both sides of the street ;-) and that optimum is way higher than competitive equilibrium.

    Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “my alternative”. I’ve not really elaborated my ideal economic system (and I’m not even sure I have one. “Somewhere between libertarian and Lange Type Socialism” is pretty fuzzy ;-)

    Ideally Capitalists would recognize that collaboration with other businesses, including competitors, would expand the market and help everyone. We know that many do not play that way, but, are limited by not having AUTHORITY to use. When the gubmint is introduced into the mix we then have the AUTHORITY to create monopolies, manipulate markets, and “INVEST IN THE FUTURE!!”

    Not sure at all how to interpret that, either… THE major problem, recognized as early as Adam Smith, is exactly that “Capitalists would recognize that collaboration with other businesses…would…help everyone”. But you have a key error. It is not to expand markets but to restrict markets that gives the most gain:
    http://thinkexist.com/quotation/people_of_the_same_trade_seldom_meet_together/145519.html

    “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

    Adam Smith quotes (Scottish philosopher and economist, 1723-1790)

    REDUCTION of supply to RAISE PRICES. That is how you reach a monopoly optimal price.

    So any time you see actions that involve collaboration of competitors, you see the reduction of the market (but with a large increase in the profits…)

    See OPEC for a simple example. They do not “increase the supply” unnecessarily… They wait until the ‘demand destruction’ is so great that they have gotten the best profit level.

    In large part, my “complaint” about The Socialisms is exactly the point that in a well functioning Regulated Capitalism or “Mixed Economy Capitalism” the role of Government is to PREVENT the formation of trusts, cartels, ‘collaborations’ against the public good. To FORBID the formation of monopolies or so constrain them that they can not indulge in the various Monopoly Practices. Under The Socialisms (to various degrees) the Government does promote the use of Central Authority to form and promote monopolies. Exactly backwards… So they have “The Government Railroad” or “The drug company cartel” or “The People’s labor board” all with variations of monopoly power.

    So your complaint about Government Power is the same as mine, as it is practiced in the cozy “working together Third Way” of several of The Socialisms. (Most strongly in the Fascist system where “fascist” meant “bundle” and was a reference to strong labor unions, and where companies were brought under government control and given clear sponsored monopoly powers, inside the Government umbrella of Central Planning. Also seen in the Nazi system of corporatism. At its weakest being seen in our present Lang Type Socialism in the USA where The Feds have forbidden a GM bankruptcy court process and have bought partial ownership in a large number of companies.)

    But that THEY do it that way, simply does not mean that Lassiez Faire Capitalism would have no monopolists(!). That government is somehow needed to have a monopoly.

    Simple example? I build a light rail system down main street of a major city. There is no room for more than one set of rails. I now have a local monopoly on rail traffic on Main Street. As that is a desired location, I can collect higher fares (as folks don’t want to walk 1/2 mile to the second tier train on 3 rd street…) Over time, that added money lets me build out the rails on 2nd street, 4th-8th streets. NOW, I drop the price on 2nd Street to just under the ‘going out of business price’ for “3rd Street Rail”. Similarly for 4th street. Pretty soon, nobody is riding 3rd Street Rail and I can buy it for chump change. (This is called “Predatory Pricing”. It is presently illegal in the USA, but was not in the Robber Baron era.) This process then has me owning all the rails in town…

    The same process then plays out with bus vs rail and on down the line. “Fattest Wallet Wins” and then gets MUCH fatter as after winning the prices are raised a LOT to the “Monopoly optimal price point”. Yes, fewer folks ride the rails, but total profit is higher. (There is a specific process taught in “microeconomics” to find that optimal price… this is not a theoretical, I had to learn to do it in case I got a job doing exactly that…)

    The end game are the giant monopolies and the ‘collaborating’ oligopolies of the Robber Baron era. Doesn’t need any government largess to happen. (That does NOT mean those guys didn’t try to buy all the government advantage they could, nor that they didn’t succeed at some of that buying favor… it ONLY means that you don’t need government to get to that point.)

    Want another example?

    Food prices at ‘concessions’ in ANY large venue. Once you buy that ticket to the Hockey Game, the Disney Park, or the baseball stadium, you have just entered a Local Monopoly. No government favors needed. I can’t just shove my hotdog cart (even if I DO have a government license to sell hotdogs…) into that NFL Stadium. It is private property and they can kick me out. So a hotdog costs $8 instead of $2. ( I bought one last night at the Sharks Hockey game… it was $8.xx each for one hot dog and one 12 ounce beer. THAT is the monopoly optimum price in that venue…) Yes, the guy I was with had eaten dinner at home so didn’t buy a hot dog (volume of market cut in half…) but that move from $2 and little profit to $8 and at least $6 of it profit is the “monopoly gain”.

    Now, but for “anti-trust law”, the owner of that venue could use those excess profits to slowly buy up ALL the food establishments for miles around, and slowly jack up prices close to the venue so that you could not even eat dinner 3 blocks away before the game at lower prices…

    Again, no government largess needed. Just the Fattest Wallet and Predatory Pricing wins or occasionally a group will ‘just collaborate’ to raise the prices (there is also a large body of work supporting a variety of pricing models, including things like Price Leadership in Oligopoly, so these pricing statements are not just being ‘made up by me’… it’s very well established in economics…) So you find that prices rise as you get closer to the venue anyway, due to such ‘price leadership’… Ah, found it, still on my shelf: “Industrial Pricing” by F. M. Scherer. The text book from my “How to be an evil monopolist and not get busted by the anti-trust enforcement police” class ;-)

    For many decades in America there was ‘price leadership’ in steel by U.S. Steel. They were the largest steel (but prevented from buying out the competition by anti-trust law); so they could use price to enforce “price discipline” in the industry. They would raise prices on steel by, oh, $1 a ton. Everyone else was then expected to “follow suit” inside a few months. If someone didn’t, they would find USX underbidding them dramatically on some contracts… As most companies realized they made more profit with higher prices, everyone pretty much followed US Steel on prices. Being a cartel without being a cartel ;-) IIRC, American Airlines was the price leader in the airlines….

    Notice the key point in those examples: The “competition” was NOT to make a larger market, it was to make a larger profit via getting closer to the monopoly optimum price point…

    That is one of the few bedrock constants of capitalism. ALL companies try all the time to get closer to the monopoly optimum price point (volume be damned). There are a variety of ways to ‘help that along’ (from actual monopoly to predatory pricing to price leadership and even Classical Marketing that is to create the appearance of a ‘special’ monopoly brand – vis Coach Bags and Tiffany Diamonds).

    Oh, copyright and patent laws also are a government granted temporary monopoly. The reasoning being that it encourages the ‘little guy’ to invent or create, as without that protection “Fattest Wallet Wins” and any new ideas just get stolen. So it is an example of “Government encouraged monopoly”, but as a countervailing force against the giant oligopolies. Sadly, most inventors are now pretty much blackmailed into signing away those rights in exchange for a paycheck from… those same monopoly wannabe giant fat wallet companies… So you have Microsoft – found in court to be an illegal monopolist – using their Fat Wallet to buy strategic patent libraries to use to promote the continuation of their monopoly position… Sometimes from small software companies they put out of business via their illegal “bundling” licenses that were a very strong kind of Predatory Pricing (i.e. ‘free as it is in the bundle’). So in this case Microsoft is acting against the efforts of Government, in furtherance of their effective monopoly.

    As I’ve got about 100 pages of examples in my text books on the shelf here, I hope this has been “enough” to illustrate the point.

    Robber Barons come from the drive to Monopoly Practices. Under “regulated capitalism” the government acts to PREVENT that kind of collusion, not enhance it. Under Lassiez Faire, government is supposed to be on the sidelines, but is often coopted by The Fat Wallets into supporting their efforts to Monopoly Practices. Under Socialism, the government becomes a constructive partner in those practices…

    I hope that makes it clear why you can have a Monopoly and a Robber Baron with zero government help, and even against the wishes of government (and with the government actively suing and applying penalties, as in the Microsoft case). Yes, Gates is a modern Robber Baron. No doubt about it, as found in court…

    The problem is really this:

    You have Robber Barons in Lassiez Faire Capitalism.
    You have ONE Robber Baron under monarchy.
    You have ONE Robber Commissar under Communism.
    You have Several Approved Robber Barons (and bought off unions) under 3 rd Way Socialism / Fascism with Government control and coordination.

    You only have “many competitors and competitive markets” under “Mixed Economy Capitalism” with strong anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws, firmly enforced…. But… It tends to have the controls systems ‘co-opted’ by the regulated industries over time and has ‘influence pedaling’ problems in Democracies…

    Notice that there is no really good choice….

    So you get to ‘pick your poison’.

    Most economists are now clustered around the “Mixed economy w/Anti-trust laws” over toward the “Lange Type Socialism” where you just put the government as owner of the “natural monopolies” (so in theory ‘fattest wallet’ is the government, and through it, “the people”… in practice it’s more ‘the labor union in that industry’ that wins…)

    Advocating Lassiez Faire as a way to prevent monopolies is “exactly wrong”, as is advocating Socialism (for the simple reason that the government then acts as the monopolist…)

    Have I mentioned lately that Economics is called “The Dismal Science” for a reason? …

  32. kuhnkat, 7 March 2012 at 7:49 pm :
    “Capitalism is only a little better than your alternative as it, along with everything else, has humans running it.”

    When you have “humans running it”, you have “Crony Capitalism” as exemplified by the recent bank and motor industry bailouts.

    The gumment rewarded people who had done a lousy job. The failing companies should have been allowed to go bankrupt so that their assets could be acquired by people with more competence. Instead we rewarded the incompetents using money borrowed or obtained from taxpayers.

    When you tax good behavior (such as making a profit) you will get less of it. When you reward bad behavior (making foolish investments) you will get more of it.

  33. Sera says:

    Here is a short article that, mostly, I find hard to disagree with. One of the paragraphs…

    “Some say Europe is in trouble because the poor want to live as well as the rich. Close, but no cigar. If Europe’s in trouble, it isn’t because the poor want to live as well as the rich, but because some do. They live as well as the rich without having bothered to become rich first.”

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/07/george-jonas-europes-still-in-socialisms-grip/#more-70264

  34. Sera says:

    Oops- hat tip to Kate at SDA for the link.

  35. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M: I always read and hear on tv “tax payers´money”, however reality says it is not, at least not from YOU but from the chinese people!

  36. Pascvaks says:

    @gallopingcamel
    Watching a Democratic-Republic’s progress through time is like watching a drunk walk home, they stagger from side to side and bump into telephone poles and trash cans and parked cars and even wander out into the street where they come within a hair’s breath of being runover and killed a dozen or more times by traffic, as if that weren’t enough they fall, barf, slip in their own mess, get filty, cut, brused, and sometimes break an arm or leg, not to mention the punks, the punks and local tough guys pick on them, rob them, spit on them, and call them names (don’t you just hate the bad names they call your country?), the good D-R’s make it home after a while, have a good night’s sleep (sometimes), go to work (eventually), pay their bills (sometimes), save a penny, spend a penny, and then off they go, back to the bottle and the boys in the bar and it starts all over again. The real lucky ones are able to do this for sometime, but not many. But, from what we know of history, they do seem to last longer than many forms of government who drink or shot or pop the real hard stuff. I understand it’s a sense of balance thing, something in their inner ears tell them “too this”, “too that”, “Yes”, “No”, “careful”, OK, “Watch it Charlie!”. I heard it was something called a “Supreme Court”. Y’know, when yer SC goes, yer dead man, dead, and there ain’t no bout a’doubt it! hic.. which ways the loo?.. I feel sick.. gotta’ tro’ up.. hic..

    @Adolfo
    Picky, picky, picky! Besides, they got enough and really can’t possibly spend it all; we’re just being Judeo-Christian and helping the Chinese with their terrible burden; remember, ’tis easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Don’t ya wanna’ see some Chinese angels in the Great Beyond? Spend their money as fast as ya’ can, there’s more than ya can imagine and they really need our help.

  37. Pascvaks says:

    @gallopingcamel
    Perhaps I should have said “Watching an OLD Democratic-Republic’s progress through time…” I think there is something to the metaphor, in the case of a YOUNG D-R it’s like a young man after he gets married, the honeymoon time, then the awakening, then the kids, etc., in the case of the MATURE D-R there’s the ‘Best Years’ period when they’re most productive, etc. As life gets tired in the OLD D-R things really start to get damgerous and deadly, etc. Sure seems to fit rather well;-)

  38. Laurence M. Sheehan, PE says:

    “The US Govt GAVE one SQUARE MILE of land on a side of each mile of track laid.”

    Actually, it was 10 square miles in alternate sectons, for every mile of track laid.

    All words have become “Humpty Dumpty” words:

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – - that’s all.’

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    @Laurence M. Sheehan, PE:

    Right you are! I’d remembered the ‘square mile unit’ but forgotten they were given 10 of them in a wide checkerboard pattern each side of the track. So it was “10 square miles in one mile squares”… (Speaking of Humpty Dumpty… )

    http://www.coxrail.com/land-grants.htm

    Has a pretty good write up of it.

    It was only 50 years ago that I read about it, how could I have forgotten so quickly? ;-)

  40. Mark Miller says:

    Reading your descriptions of Enlightenment period thinking (including Renaissance humanism), I felt “at home” in that kind of thought. I remember having a conversation with a couple academics a few years ago saying, with a somewhat naive view of this history, that my ideal thought environment would be a cross between the Renaissance and Enlightenment period. Maybe I wasn’t too far off.

    When I’ve heard Christian historians recount how progressivism got started, they point to a period in the 19th century when certain elites in America admired the universities in Germany. They went to their universities, and brought back their educational philosophy to American universities. They say that’s how we developed our Ph.D. programs. We modeled them after the German universities. Along with that came the German academic views of politics and economics, which brought us the philosophies of Engels and Marx. It all makes some sort of sense.

    Every time I read about the history of progressivism, though, the Civl War and Darwin’s theory of evolution keep coming up. I don’t know yet how they’re connected in the creation of progressivism (if at all). The image I keep getting is that America was horrified by the carnage of the Civil War, and the strife it generated was tremendous. I have this feeling that the people who became the progressives blamed the Founders and their Constitution for it, though I have yet to confirm that. Secondly, I imagine they found a ready excuse to reject the Founders’ philosophy, which had a strong religious basis, because of Darwin. The idea that humans evolved from some primate ancestor, rather than being created whole by a creator, could’ve dashed the entire concept for them of humans being a divine creation with inalienable rights. If there is no god, and it’s just us humans here on earth, then the very idea that humans have a divine spark that they should be free to express would seem antiquated and naive. We’re all just animals. And they could set themselves up as the ones who are aware enough to realize this, and therefor should “manage” us, both for their benefit and ours, since they “know better” about what we really are, and therefor what’s really going on.

    Rather than use wars to defend the nation state with a certain ideological integrity, they would use war to, in their eyes, advance the idea of the unity of humanity, to bind people together in a common cause. I get the impression that it was a blending of European romanticism with European atheism. Our elites lost faith in the American experiment of the Founders (again, possibly because of the Civil War), and chose to try to create an “American Europe,” not one that’s ancient and tired, but one that’s young and vibrant; one that leads the rest of the world, showing the way. Oh what a horror show that turned into! I’ve learned something about that history, and it’s amazing how little most Americans today know about what went on with all of that. If we did, I think we’d all have a very different view of our country, and of progressives. There’s been a tremendous amount of whitewashing, from what I can tell.

    Re. rationalism = totalitarianism

    I’ve seen people with that attitude in my neck of the woods. I have an idea of why there’s this view. Progressives above all want to believe what they believe. There is no discussion. There’s just professing and proselytizing. It is a religious faith, and it brings them joy to share it with others, and for it to be accepted and validated. Rationality questions beliefs, and often destroys them. To destroy their faith is to destroy their identity. That feels evil and oppressive to them. If you try to show them documentation, giving a rational argument for why they are wrong, they will just see it as a narrative, even propaganda, and they can answer it with some of their own. To say, “No, your analysis is flawed,” on some rational basis to them is just you trying to set the terms of the debate so that you will win it. From what I have seen of their behavior when confronted with rational arguments, it seems to me they feel powerless to deal with it. I suspect they have difficulty understanding what it is. They don’t recognize an objective instrument of debate called rationality. What they see is you trying to stack the deck, or to confuse them, and they can say, “I have my own basis for truth.” They will do anything and everything in their mind to “keep the dream alive.”

    Re. postmodernism

    I did some research on this about 10 years ago. At first it was the most confusing bull**** I’d ever seen. My first encounter with it was reading some dialogue between postmodernist thinkers, and it was a trip! I had difficulty understanding what they were talking about. It was a very sophisticated act of evasion, trying to avoid definition. Rather than talk about what you would think one would talk about in a conversation, they would talk about the other guy’s argument… I’d describe it as “critical meta-analysis.”

    One of the characteristics of postmodernism is a shunning of definition, because trying to define something is modernistic. Postmodernism is anti-modernist. The thing is, postmodernists get into defining things all the time. It’s difficult to have anything approaching a meaningful conversation without having some agreed upon definitions. Where they tie themselves in knots is if you try to define what *they’re* saying, or what they believe. They will deny all of it, and basically try to leave you mystified as to what they believe, and try to evade you if you try to nail them down on what they’re talking about. They feel free to define you and what you’re saying all day long.

    My research led me to its history. It started in the art world. It came out of Dadaism (or Da-Da-ism), if I remember correctly. Reading the artistic definition of postmodernism sounded very liberating. The movement began as a reaction to convention in academia in Europe. There were certain artistic movements that were accepted as legitimate art forms of the time. Each had their criteria and conventions for what fit into them, and what was outside of them. This was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Postmodernism came along and rejected all of this. Postmodernists found these conventions confining. It got into a bunch of other issues as well, like intellectual property ownership (postmodernists believe in no such thing). They don’t believe anyone owns creations, since any creation was based on or influenced by earlier creations.

    The big thing with postmodernists is they do not believe in any objective truth. Modernism contains the belief that there is an objective truth, and that truths are provable. Postmodernism believes that nothing is provably true. There are just narratives, and all narratives are equally valid. If you’re starting to see how this fits into liberal/progressive thinking, it sure seems to.

    This leads to another facet. It turned out that Christian sources, probably more of the fundamentalist variety, were very helpful in my research. They had already done a lot of legwork on this. The main reason being that they were seeing postmodernist thinking creep into their churches and schools, and they were trying to educate people about how to recognize it, and realize its dangers. One thing that jumped out at me was a particular “branch” of postmodernism, called “affirmative postmodernism.” It goes along with many postmodernist tenets, saying that there is no such thing as objective truth, nothing is provably true, and that all information is just different narratives. Where it differs is in saying, “Some narratives are better than others.” It’s adherents say that it’s worth emphasizing certain narratives to achieve objectives in society, such as social justice and equity. In other words, we can accept and promote certain narratives as “true” for the sake of producing a certain kind of desirable society. It’s a kind shell game they play. On the one hand they acknowledge to themselves that there is no objective truth, but publicly they will espouse a particular “truth,” and try to get others to believe in it, so as to achieve some social objectives. Since they accept the idea that there is no objective truth, who determines what is “true” is entirely dependent on who has the *power* to establish that in society. That’s the unspoken implication. It reminds me of something Michelle Obama said after Barack was elected president. She talked about the need to create a better society, and one of the things she said was, “We need to change our history.” In other words, “We need to change our collective identity narrative.”

  41. E.M.Smith says:

    @Mark Miller:

    Thanks for the “look ahead” on the post-moderns. I’d scanned a page about it, but mostly glazed… Yes, I’ve run into folks with the attitude that there was no truth only an agreed narrative (and they wanted to mold the narrative…) Never had a specific label for it. Now I do…

    Hopefully it is just a phase that will pass ;-)

    BTW, I don’t have a citation for it, but vaguely remember reading somewhere that a similar philosophical outlook was the justification for Propaganda Ministries in places like the USSR and Maoist China (vis “the cultural revolution”…)

    So part of the ‘plan’ for the next episode (once I’m ‘rested up’ ;-) is to explore the philosophical roots (such as post-modernism) for the socialisms of today… But I’m not looking forward to it… I’d rather work on “A New Enlightenment”. But it needs doing. “Here there be mine fields”…

  42. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Mark Miller:
    You have made a suscinct description of the problem, and it is indeed a “problem” as “they” believe themselves to be a kind of “White brotherhood” who pretend to know what is the best for all of us.
    Their philosophy is based on the supposed fact that there are not laws in the Universe, and it is, in essence “chaotic”.
    Well, well, kids!, then tell us or show us how to make it possible that 2 plus 2 would not be equal to 4. It is not a wishful convention: IT IS A LAW…then, there are LAWS kids; now, it happens that you were wrongly educated or you were not sanely educated at all. Nature, the Universe (let´s don´t call it God in order to not to offend your lack of conscience), has LAWS that must be fulfilled, not because any disgusting and real Father or Mother that you did not have told it to you, but simply because it is like it is: It is reality, ya know?
    It would be advisable to know, in detail, who are the ones who, behind the scene, preach and fund this fake gospel, just to make all poor silly people who follow this fallacy to awake to the reality that, those behind the scene do not care for anybody or anything, as that hidden “elite” only wants to optimize their profits and they have chosen this “philosophy” as a means to attain such a goal.
    By depriving the human beings of their inherited sense of the universal laws, by alienating them of the transcendental meaning of each of our lives, such a bunch of profiteers only seek to transform us, human beings, not into animals or beasts, but in mere parts of a global machinery working for their benefit.

  43. pyromancer76 says:

    E.M. and Mark Miller,so many things to say, but the very first is to ask for a “non-intellectuals-oriented” history in addition to an assessment of intellectual thought. E.M., I will await your New Enlightenment work with great, great interest. Your have unique leadership ability in thinking outside the box. I will stand the “mine fields”, meanwhile, but I don’t look forward to them.

    I taught for many years at a premier “critical studies-marxist-oriented” institution of higher education. Much of my history teaching was to counter the mainstream ideology with “enlightened” reality from the primary sources, not their unintelligible (purposefully so) texts. I see most of their encrusted ideas as being built on envy of capitalism, engaged in by a relatively free (of fixed classes or elite leadership) society, generating a heretofore unimaginable engine of creativity and productivity awakened in the common person. (Not only “common man” in my personal period of history. I was an engine of “reform” and believe that the expansion of representative democracy to women and all those who had been purposefully left out was one of the marvels of American representative democracy.)

    This period ended in the 1960s at the same time that U.S. access to the natural resources that fueled the engine declined. Those who were envious jumped on the opportunity to stop the experiment in Representative Democracy (I think a pure Republic is for elitists and needs to be rethought for the most expansive inclusiveness.) Stopping the experiment meant and means mocking, demeaning, and demolishing everything that the average family might hope for in their future and that of their children. This means that the marxists (those who call themselves “progressive”, or post-modern, or “critical” thinkers today) must control everything linked to the raising of children including their education and their introduction to sexuality. There is no importance residing in the individual or his/her purposes. Everything must be subject to the appetites (including sexual) of the elitists-marxists who advocate control, not freedom — this includes natural resources (AGW) as well as your son’s and daughter’s reproductive creativity (e.g., Planned Parenthood).

    Mark Miller, “how progressivism got started”. With regard to American history, leave the Germans to Germany and the intellectuals to their “encrusted ideas”. Turn your attention to the needs to a newly industrialized society with Robber Barons (to the victor go ALL the “spoils”) on one side and massive numbers of immigrants (70% foreign born in some cities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries) who were fodder for city bosses and new labor organizers. The majority of Americans felt overwhelmed and looked to their Federal Government to referree among these brand new “powers” in American society. We needed a stronger Federal Government, but we got overwhelmed by world powers advocating domination of others (two World Wars) and lack of transparency and accountability among the corporate and financial elites (1929 and the Depression).

    I believe a New Enlightenment will concentrate on American ideas and our (scientific) experiments in a free society for all. No other nation has done so much for so many by creating the conditions for them to do so much for themselves. Today we have the natural resources to restart the creative, productive engine. Without those resources, we are toast– or fodder for the “I will take care of you” spin-meisters.

  44. Pascvaks says:

    Thoughts-

    We are not alone! We are but a piece of the whole.

    When you look too close at anything you see less, not more. Sometimes it is even possible to look so close that you are actually seeing something else entirely. Step back. Get upon a high, far place where you can see the entire world before you. Much of the detail will be lost, but you will gain much, you will see more and understand more about the whole. It will be entirely different from any of the pieces.

    Someone will gain a following somewhere and somewhen, the following will grow, age, decay, change, and the original will one day die with a wimper, or a bang.

    Someone else will gain a following, it too will grow, age, decay, change, and die.

    Look for common threads and you will find them, but remember to step back and see the coat every now and then to remind yourself what it was you were originally looking to see.

    It is easy to become confused. Words are a very awkward way to convey thoughts and ideas. ESP will be better, I’m sure, but we ain’t there yet. In fact we’re very likely no where close.

    Always retain your sense of perspective and proportion, it critical at every level of reality.

  45. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks says:
    9 March 2012 at 4:44 pm
    According to that supreme “sense of perspective and proportion” any conspiracy, if existent, is doomed to fail, as things do not change because any “anthropogenic” desire but of the stars above. Anything not “according to law”, as not pertaining to the proper arrangement of the Universe will not last longer than it is allowed.
    Our possibilities are really big and unimaginable but only if harmonic and consonant with the symphony of the cosmos.

  46. Pascvaks, 9 March 2012 at 4:44 pm,

    John Donne, “No Man is an Island”:
    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/no-man-is-an-island/

    T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”:
    http://www.artofeurope.com/eliot/eli2.htm

  47. adolfogiurfa says:

    @gallopingcamel the problem we are dealing of refers to those who believe themselves not even an island but the Sun itself or perhaps the Moon, the Planets, the Gods at the Olympus, knowing for themselves afar from human affairs and pretending we as being their slaves.

  48. Mark Miller says:

    @E.M.Smith:

    From what I’ve read, and been seeing, postmodernism took over the humanities in universities decades ago. It takes the form of criticism, and sometimes advocacy and indoctrination, though that falls more into Critical Theory. Rather than reading and trying to learn from an understanding of someone else’s mind, what they’ve done is criticize the authors, picking at their use of words and expression, and looking into their background. To hell with what they thought. Also, rather than try to understand another culture, you can just criticize it. I read an article in The Atlantic years ago, written by a guy who attended Harvard in the 1980s. He said his humanities curriculum was just like this. Nothing but criticism. I don’t remember him talking about indoctrination. He said it was the easiest thing to do, but he didn’t learn very much. He wondered why the university bothered with such high entrance requirements. He never once felt challenged.

    The scary thing, when I was doing my research on postmodernism, was reading stories about how it was creeping into areas that one would think would be hardened against it. One story I read talked about an academic in a medical school saying she couldn’t see the reason to test drugs, because “nothing is provable.” She used FDA-approved drugs that have still caused deaths as her justification for this view. By that logic, though, one could justify a diabetic taking rat poison to try to cure their illness. Nothing is provable, so we don’t know what it’ll do. Maybe it’ll work. Oops! They died, and so soon! Oh well…it could’ve been anything. Nothing is provable, so we don’t know why they died…

    That’s what just drove me up the wall about postmodernism in the non-arts disciplines. It was this fancy sounding name for advocating ignorance and irrationality. The one positive I found with it was it really pushed against a tendency in academia to assume, “We know everything,” an attitude that tends to shut out new ideas which may have validity. Since postmodernism assumes, “We know nothing,” that can open up wide vistas to new knowledge. The problem is the other side of that coin: Postmodernism also says, “We can’t know anything.” This excuses ignorance.

    I listened to a brief conversation between a couple academics about postmodernism, and one of them gave a historical context to it. He said that it harkens back to Medieval thinking, which is characterized by thinking that something is either absolutely true, or absolutely false. There is no in between. Modern thinkers know that it’s difficult to find much that is absolutely true. The best place to find absolute truth is in mathematics. Out in the real world there’s a lot that is false, but there are also things that we know that are not absolutely false. There is an objective reality (one could call it an objective truth), but we can only estimate it, and some of our estimates are very good. Postmodernists in the non-arts disciplines don’t get this idea of “wrestling with reality.” They don’t like the uncertainty. They just give up, throw up their hands and say, “Since you can’t establish what’s absolutely, unshakably true, it’s all unknowable.” They demand hard facts to prove their world view false. Since no one can really provide any that aren’t later corrected or contradicted, they see that as validation of their world view, and that anyone who makes a claim to knowledge is just fooling themselves.

    @adolfogiurfa:

    Re. “there are no laws in the Universe”

    Hmm. I haven’t heard this. Michael Coffman talked about a “rancher-herd” world view WRT progressives. He said that they think like farmers or ranchers. They see the rest of us as animals, their livestock, that it is their job to tend. Like a farmer understands their livestock, they feel they understand us, and what we need. He used the example of a goat farm. He said that male goats are aggressive, and they tend to hog the hay. A farm may have pregnant female goats. They’re more demure, and they won’t get the hay they need unless the farmer “redistributes” some of it from the males to the females. He said this is how progressives view our world. There are certain people who are aggressive, ambitious, whatever you want to call them. They hog the assets of the country from the more demure members of the “herd,” and so they see it as their job to redistribute some of that wealth to the weaker members of society, who just wouldn’t be able to support themselves otherwise. I forget if it was Glenn Beck who talked about this (he also used this analogy). Maybe Coffman did. Whoever it was said that progressives also “understand” that occasionally the “herd” won’t like what the farmer is doing. The animals will complain and howl. That’s all your complaining is to them, the mindless bleating of animals who are merely reacting, not thinking. Just like a farmer, they’ll hear your complaints, but they won’t give you the respect your complaints deserve, because they don’t recognize you as a farmer. I think it was Beck who said that in their view there are also animals who try act like the farmer, trying to lead the others, the occasional populist, grassroots leaders who crop up from time to time. When they see this, they say to the “herd”, “No, no. Don’t go over there. He or she is not a farmer. That animal’s dangerous. Come this way. Listen to us.”

    I can see what you’re saying, out of this depiction, that they see themselves as trying to contain and create order out of chaos. The thing is, thinking about real livestock for a moment, if they were out in the wild, there wouldn’t be chaos. There would still be some order to it all, just not the order fashioned by the farmer. It would be an organic order fashioned out of the capabilities and proclivities of the animals themselves. It seems to me that the Founders saw things this way with respect to humans, though some like Jefferson saw the potential for people to improve on that order via. education. I guess if I were to make an “animal” analogy, I’d say the Founders tried to create a “wildlife preserve” rather than a farm or a ranch. It would have some boundaries to prevent some bad things from happening, but would otherwise leave people to their own devices, and they’d thrive or perish according to a natural order.

    @Pascvaks:

    Glenn Beck put forward what I thought was a really interesting idea, and it gave a wider view on things. He said that the struggle for freedom did not end with the Revolutionary war. It’s a struggle that’s actually been going on for eons, with freedom sometimes winning, but also losing for long stretches of time. This became clearer to me when I watched the HBO series on John Adams. Before the Declaration of Independence was created, there were colonies who resisted separating from England, not just because they didn’t like the idea of going to war with the most powerful country in the world, but because they believed in, approved of the hierarchical, monarchic system that was the British system. The two states that seemed (from the depiction) to show the most resistance to separation were Pennsylvania, and New York. The others eventually “succumbed to the inevitable” and approved separation. Pennsylvania was brought into the fold via. a maneuver that allowed Ben Franklin to vote for it as their representative. New York abstained…

    During the Revolutionary war there were Tory sympathizers, people who wanted to stay with England. It’s convenient to think that the ideologies that supported the British crown simply disappeared after the war was over. I’m not saying that what we see today is a result of British sympathizers working us over, over the generations. What I’m saying is the Revolution was a mixed bag of sympathies. Not everyone wanted to overturn the existing order that had been in place for a thousand years. Even the colonies that went along probably had their doubts, and maybe had regrets about it. There were some who I think kind of missed the point, like Alexander Hamilton. He had some good ideas, but I agree with Jefferson’s criticism of him, that if Hamilton had had his way with the country, America would’ve ended up like England all over again. So there’s a tendency to say, “Their way is the right way,” not recognizing that, “Uh…we fought against England because of that… Why are we bringing it back?” We’ve heard this refrain from the progressives for decades, “We’re the only country in the developed world that doesn’t have this.” Yes. That’s because the other developed countries are socialist…

    The point is that the struggle for freedom is seemingly never ending. There is never a point, and probably never will be, where we can say, “Freedom has won.” There will always be people who are uncomfortable with it, who think it is dangerous. We see that today. As Americans we’ve gotten pretty lazy and ignorant about the matter. Even those who support smaller government and more freedom haven’t done that great a job of arguing in favor of it.

  49. Pascvaks says:

    @MarkMiller:
    Very true. Humans doen’t remember history very well, just the “general idea” of it sometimes. I always hated trying to memorize dates and names. I thought, “I get the idea, why the names and dates and assundry meaningless facts?” But we do, over time, even forget the ideas, they fade as well as everything else. The lessons in the books evaporate first, then the actual experiences of our lives as well. The farther we are from the past the harder it is to get very excited about words and ideas and such. We live in the moment. The past is yesterday, not July 4,1776. The future is tomorrow, not November 6, 2012. The ‘many’ have, and always will, rely on the few at the edge of the flock, to warn them of danger; otherwise, night follows day follows the next, and life is a lazy, hazy, crazy, sometimes hot, sometimes cold, sometimes wet, sometimes dry, sometimes windy, sometimes not, search for the next blade of grass or drink. If the shepherd as made a deal with the devil, we’re not going to really know about it until we’re loaded onto the rail cars. You know, sometimes the hardest part of being a sheep is staying away from your neighbor’s rearend. Munch.. munch.. ;-)

  50. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Mark Miller: The root of the problem, as you have cleverly ascertained, is that opposition, such dichotomy between Gnosis and Agnosis, where, two thousand years ago the “official” church adopted Agnosis as a dogma: We are not supposed to know…they do, and salvation comes through their exclusive intervention (of course, if properly “tipped”).
    However there has been a problem too: It has been always and by far better to have a herd of sheeps than a herd of wolves…these are a pretty tricky and troublesome to be managed and controlled…
    Then “they” decided that in order to have a total control they should have only sheeps; for that purpose “they” decided to “initiate”, in appropriate institutions formed by them, those sheeps by telling and convincing them they were wolves, and to depreciate the rest as being simple and dumb sheeps they were supposed to lead under the guidance of supreme and hidden principles only transmitted to them, as initiates, by their masters, the only who could hear the voice of the most high “Architect of the Universe” himself.

  51. adolfogiurfa says:

    A PROVE on this: They just want SHEEPS :
    When Science, Politics, and Policy Collide: On the Regulation of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids, Steroid Precursors, and “Dietary Supplements” in the United States
    Bryan E. Denham
    Clemson University, Clemson, SC, bdenham@clemson.edu
    Abstract

    Twenty years after policy makers passed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, adding steroids to the list of Schedule III Controlled Substances in the United States, illicit use of the drugs continues among both adolescents and adults in American society. Some of the men and women who use steroids seek enhanced athletic performance, whereas others simply want to appear more muscular. But what, exactly, is a “steroid”? The present article examines legislation surrounding actual anabolic-androgenic steroids, steroid precursors, and associated “dietary supplements,” exploring how the political interests of policy actors and the economic interests of industry lobbies have compromised regulatory efforts. Among the issues addressed are the arbitrary assignment of substances to (and exemption from) the Omnibus Controlled Substances Act and the retailing of “dietary supplements” that contain widely varying amounts of active ingredients and, in some cases, synthetic steroids. Conceptually, the article draws on the “garbage can” model of policy processes as well as the broader public arenas model of social problems, focusing on subjective issue constructions and symbolic appeals.
    http://jss.sagepub.com/content/35/1/3.short?rss=1&ssource=mfr
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883314/
    http://www.wada-ma.org/rtecontent/document/2009_Prohibited_List_ENG_Final_20_Sept_08.pdf

  52. Mark Miller says:

    With regard to freedom, I’ve noticed that we have a “design problem” in our society. It keeps coming back to this for me. From observing leaders, and their backgrounds, I have a theory that people think and act as they’ve been acculturated, through their life experience. At the beginning of the country, Americans were entrepreneurial, with the exception of slavery. People largely worked for themselves. They realized what they could do under their own power, and held on to what they gained from that. So the freedom to act, and the protection of property rights were very important. There were interdependent relationships, but everything was obtained by your own wits and decisions. The Industrial Age created a more hierarchical arrangement. Now you had executives and capital investors running the show. Everyone else was a participant in a group activity (a company) that had a small number of leaders, and the goal was to make a vision, determined by the leaders, real. We still have this today.

    What I notice this created was a system of some sense of individual contribution, but also a sense of group dependency. The only people in this arrangement who have real autonomy, the ability to exercise real power, are the executives and the investors. Everyone else just carries out directives from “on high.” What’s changed more recently is that some employees are expected to have more initiative, to come up with their own ideas for how to carry something through to completion.

    This also has consequences for leaders. When the expectation is that the leader is supposed to be the one with the vision that everyone else follows, how does this support the political idea of autonomy? If the expectation is that you’re supposed to organize people and “take care of your own,” how does this support the political idea that people have the ability to operate under their own power, and have their own ideas and interests that need to be taken into consideration?

    This has real consequences for the life skills and experiences that are needed to maintain a free republic. If an employee loses their job, do they have the developed skills and ability to create their own job, so that they are not dependent on an employer to give them sustenance? Some do, but what I’ve seen from past layoffs is most do not. They’ve lived their lives working for someone else, not for themselves. In this arrangement what people tend to value is a safety net, maybe even a “hammock.” They understand less and less of what makes things work, and are more focused on just getting a check in exchange for doing what someone else tells them to do. When that arrangement appears unsteady and unreliable, people involved in that naturally feel scared and resentful, because they’ve just done what they were told to do, and expected to be rewarded for it. They feel jilted and used. I think in a lot of cases they have been. The joke is on them, because they didn’t realize what they were giving up by entering into these arrangements. Demagogues have preyed on this resentment, trying to set themselves up as the saviors of these people, to give themselves power–continuing the joke, distracting from the real work the beleaguered need to do, and the adjustments they need to make in how they view their relationship to others. This is what we are seeing now.

    The answers are scary. Part of the task of remaking this country is for people to become more entrepreneurial. They cannot depend on employers to stick around to give them a job and a paycheck. Once that’s realized, political changes will come. For that to happen, though, the current regulatory regime has got to be thrown off.

  53. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Mark Miller: Jokingly a jewish university professor told me that if working for other people´s business would be really a good business we should rest assured that all those jobs would be taken by jewish people…

  54. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Mark Miller: Part of the task of remaking this country is for people to become more entrepreneurial. They cannot depend on employers to stick around to give them a job and a paycheck
    For that to happen they must begin to face reality, once and for all: Jobless workers must feel the urgency to work or die. I have told many times what happened in Peru, S.A. in the last 25 years: It´s too long to tell it again, but what would you have done with 85% of unemployment, one of the highest birth rates in the world and no possibility of creating jobs by some miraculous stimulus package because there was NO MONEY AT ALL?. After 25 years we have a booming economy and, as a result of that high birth rate an every day growing local market. Sounds crazy and contrary to those pseudo altruistic liberal principles but it is the truth.

  55. R. de Haan says:

    The development of the Old and the New World, it’s people and nations through out history has been determined by the availability of food, resources, trade, inventions that slipped the balance of power and finally led to a scientific and industrial revolution but also war and disease. In fact isolation and a lack of resistance against European and Asian diseases among the indigenous people of the America’s have been crucial factors in our recent history.

    In Europe (and Asia for that matter) people lived in close contact with their livestocks and centuries of epidemics that often hit in conjunction with food shortages caused by wars and weather events had created a growing population that had turned immune to many of the epidemics that killed their ancestors in the past.

    After the Spanish and Portugese raided the New Word around the year 1.500 they took in a cocktail of bacterial and viral diseases. The local populations had no resistance to these diseases and over a relative short period of a few centuries 90% of indigenous populations had perished leaving an almost depopulated continent behind .

    When Peru provided the gift of the potato to Europe it was found that the potato grew much better in Europe generating increased crop yields by 400% compared to cereals. The potato ended the endless cycles of famine, epidemics and changed the type of warfare as we experienced during the 30 Year War when armies marched through the country side for food and loot.

    So at a certain point in history (1700 – 1800), we have the New World almost completely depopulated by epidemics (estimates vary from 40 to 90 million people killed by small pock’s, flue, cholera etc. etc. and America in the phase of the new frontier which development only could be brought forward by mass immigration.

    However, when the Europeans started to import guano to fertilize their fields, they opened the door for the potato disease that is caused by blight (1840).

    The potato disease triggered the first really big wave of settlers moving from Europe to America.

    The great wars and the economic crises of the Thirties of the past century kept the inflow of immigrants leaving Europe to try their luck on the other side of the Atlantic, Australia and New Zealand going.

    Today a new wave of immigrants is moving from Europe to South America, Australia, new Zealand, Canada and the USA, despite the high unemployment figures in the USA.

    German companies in the USA for example are doing fine and well educated Germans are most welcome employees and entrepreneurs. Also the type of immigrant has changed. In the past immigrants came with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, their values and education. Today’s immigrants from Europe come with money, knowledge and a plan.

    As for the ocracie’s and ologie’s I think a quick look at history from 1850 to 1989 tells us they are as deadly as they are unsustainable.

    The current environmentalist doctrine that started with the introduction of CAGW in Germany in 1987, thanks to the new media and armies of bloggers will be killed in it’s track. With it the Globalist Agenda will die although it will take quite an effort to convince the Water Melons that they are on the wrong side of the equation but what counts is that the efforts are underway to turn the tide.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/10/moncktons-schenectady-showdown/

    People like you and me want their freedom and independence above everything else and no force in the world is going to take that away from us.

    This doesn’t mean we’re not in trouble.
    Those depending on Government hand outs will suffer the most.

    Those who are used to take care of them selves will continue to do so under any circumstances.

    THERE IS NO ROOM FOR WATERMELONS OR ANY OTHER TOTALITARIANS WHO THINK THEY CAN TELL US HOW TO LIVE OUR LIVES.

    We know their objectives, we know their plans and we will stop them.

  56. Mark Miller says:

    @R. de Haan:

    Re. Monckton’s Schenectady showdown

    I liked the conclusion. It’s one of the main reasons I railed against AGW alarmism for as long as I did. Yelling at the darkness doesn’t do a lot of good, though, from my experience.

    “We shall lose the West unless we can restore the use of reason to pre-eminence in our institutions of what was once learning. It was the age of reason that built the West and made it prosperous and free. The age of reason gave you your great Constitution of liberty. It is the power of reason, the second of the three great powers of the soul in Christian theology, that marks our species out from the rest of the visible creation, and makes us closest to the image and likeness of our Creator. I cannot stand by and let the forces of darkness drive us unprotesting into a new Dark Age.”

    I started reading “Dark Age Ahead,” by Jane Jacobs a while back (written in 2005). I still need to finish it.

  57. Pascvaks says:

    The ‘NEW’ Judeo-Christian Ethic, a’la the Ivy League Progressives and the Great Minds of the ‘Truly Great Universities of the World’, is actually something quite old, it was originally called “Passive Submission”; that’s where they release us by the thousands into the center of the Roman Colosseum and then open the gates and let the lions, and tigers, and bears rip us to shreds. Ahhhhh yes, those were the days my friend, we thought the’d never end, we’d scream and pray forever and a day… ta da ta da ta da… (If you don’t remember that one, how about that Nazi Trick or Treat ‘Step in the Shower’ routine?) Yes, yes we must turn the other cheek. Yes, yes we must forgive our enemy. Yes, yes, we must do good to those who would harm us. How about, from now on, we only turn one cheek and not all four; how about we only forgive them once; how about we give them the fastest, easiest, most comfortable trip to hell anyone ever gave anyone ever? Life’s a beach, even 98 pound weaklings have to stand up and fight sometimes. (After they get the sand out of their eyes;-) Right? Left? Up? Down? Yes? No?

  58. R. de Haan says:

    Mark Miller says:
    11 March 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Dark Age in the making but Poland say’s NO. Blocks EU’s Climate Road Map 2050
    http://notrickszone.com/2012/03/11/poland-says-no-blocks-eus-climate-roadmap-napoleon-hedegaard-vents-she-wont-stand-for-it/

    This roadmap foresees a CO2 emission reduction 95% of 1998 levels.

    I thank the Poles but the fact that poland is the only country opposing this suicide pact is most worrying.

  59. R. de Haan says:

    Pascvaks says:
    11 March 2012 at 5:14 pm
    “How about, from now on, we only turn one cheek and not all four; how about we only forgive them once; how about we give them the fastest, easiest, most comfortable trip to hell anyone ever gave anyone ever?”

    That’s exactly where we’re heading.
    No mercy and no prisoners.

  60. Mark Miller says:

    @Pascvaks:

    Re. passive submission

    In our culture that’s how “turn the other cheek” is known. I heard an interesting interpretation a while back that kind of contradicts this from some theologians. The actual phrasing was something like, “If someone strikes you on your right cheek, offer them your left.” The “sides” were very specific. What they said was that in the ancient world you did everything with your right hand. If someone were to strike you on your right cheek, they would be using their left hand, and it would be considered an insult. If they struck you on your left cheek, with their right hand, it meant that they strongly, passionately disagreed with you, but they respected you. So by this historical interpretation, what Jesus was saying was not, “Submit and take it again.” He could’ve been saying in a very succinct way, “if someone insults you, do not back away and accept it. Confront them, and demand respect, though do not demand that they agree with you.” It’s kind of another way of saying, “Love your enemies,” offer them forgiveness, though it adds a wrinkle that says, “Don’t be a doormat,” which is the opposite of how our culture thinks of it.

    I’ve found that the way a lot of people in the West interpret the Bible has been colored by the way the Roman Catholic Church interpreted it. What comes out strongly to me through what little research I’ve done is the Church created a cultural “translation” of the Bible from the traditions of the early ethnically jewish Christians, to the Western traditions, and some meaning got “lost in translation,” because there was no way to translate it. These messy translations would’ve likely served the Roman Church’s purposes as well.

    @R. de Haan:

    Following up on your comment re. Monckton, I was also thinking that there is some reason for optimism, though it’s only slight. Last year I heard a recording of Al Gore yelling at the top of his lungs, I guess in a “private” conference call, in frustration that, “You cannot talk about global warming in polite company anymore without people rolling their eyes.” He said he kept getting confronted with contrary anecdotes, “Well what about ‘this,’ and what about ‘that,’” stuff he called “Bull****!” It was very satisfying to hear that, because I’ve probably had to deal with that from some of his minions. Always nice to see the charlatans get some of their own medicine. That’s putting them in their own private hell.

    I think Delingpole is right, though, that the AGW alarmists are not fighting this on the grounds of science. They are using science as a prop. When that no longer works, they will use something else. It’s really a political movement.

    A few years ago I attended a panel discussion on the premise that “there is no such thing as agenda-free science.” Most of the panelists were scientists, and all of them made a good case that there is always an agenda of some sort behind scientific research, because people are motivated by what interests them. This determines what scientists study as well as what science gets funded. There was some valuable discussion that scientists should use an “ethical check” in their work, to try to see clearly what agenda they’re serving, because often scientists do their work within the confines of what gives them a job, and they don’t look beyond that to see what larger agenda they’re serving.

    There was one panelist, though, who was not a scientist. She really frustrated me, because she argued that science was political, but presents itself as being objective, promoting misconceptions about itself and the world. She then went on to add that she’s part of an organization that promotes the idea with regard to the environment that we should ignore the scientists, and pay attention to what our moral sense tells us we should do about it. As part of her answer she invited people to join her organization. Quite an ignorant stance on both science and the environment. I think it was the only time she spoke. Not a single scientist on the panel said a word in protest to what she said. I wondered why, because what she was presenting was, in my mind, a blatantly postmodern, anti-science message, that nothing is really knowable, and science has nothing really valuable to say about our world or the environment. It’s just people fooling themselves. It was not my place to chastise her, since I was an audience member, and we were only allowed to ask questions, but I wished I’d had the opportunity to do so. I suppose I could’ve come up and asked why she was allowed on the panel, but I think that would’ve been considered rude, and they would’ve immediately asked me to sit down and shut up.

    The point being that when confronted with rational argument, I have often seen the alarmists fall back on a utilitarian (“What does it matter? If we go forward and turn out to be wrong, we’ll have all this alternative, non-polluting energy. Won’t that be great?”), or moral argument (“We can’t just think we have no impact on the earth.”) They act like they care about the science, but they really don’t. I think science provides an antidote to this message, not in the sense of contradicting their messages about the science, but in informing people, “Yes, we have an impact on the environment, but what science seems to be telling us is that impact is limited. We do not affect every single facet of our world.” The alarmists don’t like this message, because they see that as communicating a license for us to do what we want, and we don’t have to worry about it. We can experience worry-free freedom. That’s not entirely true about the message. In some ways, yes, I think we don’t have to worry about the impact of our actions, but there are also things we’re doing to the environment that are being totally ignored, and I think we do need to worry about, which have nothing to do with the climate.

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  63. Rick Bradford says:

    When comparing robber barons with today’s ‘progressives’, it is worth bearing in mind CS Lewis’ take:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  64. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Rick, I know what you mean. 3 years in a Catholic school, One of the sisters was the most evil person I ever had the misfortune to be in the clutches of. pg

  65. M Simon says:

    I blame the pernicious influence of thermodynamics and the relevant statistics.

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